Ranch owner pursues cut to taxes

Coldstream Ranch isn’t taking any more bull when it comes to what it calls unfair taxation.

Coldstream Ranch isn’t taking any more bull when it comes to what it calls unfair taxation.

Owner Keith Balcaen says he normally goes about his business at the farm or Balcaen Logging with little fuss.

But a struggling agricultural sector has forced the ranch to review its major expenses over the past several years.

Taxation is one of them.

“The tax is hurting, it’s hurting a lot,” Balcaen told Coldstream council Monday.

“It’s almost like you’re being penalized for being in the agricultural sector.”

Coldstream Ranch has requested several times since 2012 that the district council review its current tax multiplier (which is 4.5 to 1) and give consideration to reducing the rate.

“I’m more disappointed in nothing happening in the last three years,” said Balcaen.

The 2014 farm tax rate in Coldstream is 12, whereas Vernon is .79, Enderby is 3.3 and Lake Country is 1.08.

“It leaves a really (bad) taste with me when we’re paying 12 per cent higher than my neighbours,” said Balcaen.

But Mayor Jim Garlick points out that consideration has to be given to what makes up each area. For example, other rural communities have higher rates, such as Armstrong which is also 12, Spallumcheen is 11 and Lumby is 75.

“It’s a hard one,” said Garlick, adding that council must compare services to the taxes brought in.

Coun. Richard Enns adds: “We’re always trying to weigh those things, it’s a tough decision.”

But as a small agricultural operater, Enns admits that the current rate doesn’t affect him as much as it does Coldstream Ranch.

Although he doesn’t want to, Balcaen suggests he may have to start peeling off some of the 130 titles the ranch owns in order to be viable.

“We’re a bigger entity, maybe we should start selling off?”

Council agreed to bring the issue back for discussion for next year, since it has been a tough decision.

“It was far from a unanimous vote from council on what to do with it,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.

Enns was opposed as he would like to see additional information brought forward in order to spur further discussion.