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Hospital district to withhold taxes

It is an amount it would otherwise be collecting from reserve land neighbourhoods around Kamloops that utilize the city for medical services
Royal Inland Hospital
Royal Inland Hospital is in downtown Kamloops, at Columbia Street and Third Avenue.

The Thompson-Nicola Hospital District (TRHD) is withholding from the provincial government more than a quarter of a million dollars in taxes — an amount it would otherwise be collecting from reserve land neighbourhoods around Kamloops that utilize the city for medical services.

The TRHD board of directors has voted in favour of decreasing its tax requisition for the 2023 budget by $271,343 (or 1.7 per cent) to account for properties in Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge, located on Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc reserve lands, that do not contribute taxes to the TRHD annual budget.

This reduction in taxes means the provincial government, via Interior Health, will need to fund the difference.

TRHD board chair and Kamloops Coun. Mike O’Reilly said the reduction will ensure taxpayers in other communities within the hospital district are not continuing to absorb additional costs to meet the TRHD’s annual contributions. This amount will be adjusted annually based on Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge property assessments.

“After discussions with Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc leadership, we understand that sufficient taxation is collected from properties in these neighbourhoods due to the Locatee Lease Policy that is applied by the Government of Canada, and we are aligned with Tk’emlúps in this,” O’Reilly said in a release.

O’Reilly told KTW this means when capital requests to the TRHD are now made by IH, the board will be annually withholding that amount.

“With that money not being made up, by default, every other taxpayer throughout the Thompson-Nicola Hospital District is paying more,” O’Reilly said, adding they will now pay less.

The hospital district board looked at the tax roll for those areas, which was more than $900-million in assessed property value that the TRHD is not collecting tax on, which is equivalent to about half the size of the city of Merritt, O’Reilly said.

He said the decision is not designed to get Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge into the TRHD.

“That’s something the provincial government needs to get involved in and spearhead. That’s not in our realm,” O’Reilly said.

Hospital districts in B.C. typically fund 40 per cent of capital equipment purchases at health-care facilities within hospital district boundaries, with the provincial government funding the remaining amounts. O’Reilly told KTW there is precedent from other hospital districts in B.C. for the TRHD to negotiate reducing that to 30 per cent.

The tax requisition for the TRHD budget in 2023 was just under $16.4 million, representing a 1.5 per cent increase over 2022, meaning an average home assessed at $600,000 in the TRHD boundaries would have paid approximately $179.58 in 2023 for residential hospital district taxes.

The TRHD borrows funds and finances construction projects or equipment purchases at hospitals within its boundaries, while capital projects are cost-shared between the province and TRHD. The TRHD board of directors is composed of 31 members, including all 27 board members of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.