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City vies for fuel revenue

If council has its way, Yukoners could be paying another one cent per litre at the gas pumps.City politicians are considering asking other…

If council has its way, Yukoners could be paying another one cent per litre at the gas pumps.

City politicians are considering asking other municipalities if there’s an appetite to have the Yukon government raise its fuel tax by one cent per litre and then give that money to municipal governments.

Currently, the Yukon collects more than $6.5 million on its 7.2-cent-per-litre tax on diesel fuel and the 6.2 cents it collects on gasoline.

Whitehorse’s proposed one-cent levy would raise an additional $992,000 and would go to territorial transit systems and road networks, said Robert Fendrick, the city’s director of administrative services.

“The issue here is to determine if it would be beneficial for the city of Whitehorse to bring forward a resolution to the Association of Yukon Communities to petition for an increase in the fuel …,” said Fendrick.

City administration is recommending that council petition the Association of Yukon Communities to lobby the Yukon government for the extra tax, he added.

With such limited powers for cities to tax, and such a great need to upgrade its infrastructure, lobbying the government for an increase of funds is something she would support, said Mayor Bev Buckway.

“Personally, as we are so limited in our ways to raise funds, we can do it through taxes and that’s always an onerous situation,” she said.

“If we were able to do a small manoeuvre, such as (a fuel tax levy) it would generate a lot of money, but it would generate from the people who are using the infrastructure, who are using the roads.

“Yes, I would support it.”

She expects a great deal of discussion around the idea, added Buckway.

“I haven’t decided yet. I’d like to hear more discussion at the AYC level and see what the other communities think,” said councillor Jan Stick.

“I like the fact that it would be something that would be shared with all municipalities, not just Whitehorse.

“I’m keeping an open mind, I haven’t decided one way or the other.”

The idea is already being used in other parts of the country — including Vancouver — and has allowed municipalities to use the money for sustainable infrastructure, such as transit, she said.

The Municipal Act limits the ways in which Whitehorse and other municipal areas can raise money, according to a city administrative report.

The city is only able to raise money through property taxes and user fees, but cannot levy charges used in other jurisdictions.

“The Municipal Act limits means by which municipalities may levy charges, which would be one method of ensuring that all users of municipal facilities, including tourists and other visitors, contribute to the cost of maintaining such facilities.

“An example would be a hotel tax, which is not permitted under the act.”