By Tim Petruk
Kamloops This Week
The carbon tax isn’t going anywhere.
That’s the word from Environment Minister Terry Lake, as he prepares to listen to the concerns of British Columbians about the controversial tax.
“We’re not getting rid of it,” said the Kamloops-North Thompson Liberal MLA.
“If we were to get rid of the carbon tax, we’d have to increase other taxes.”
The Liberal government is reviewing the tax, which was implemented by then-Premier Gordon Campbell five years ago.
There has been some speculation Premier Christy Clark will axe it altogether, but Lake said that’s not going to happen.
But, he said, it might change.
“We want to find out what’s the best path forward,” he said.
The tax is levied on almost all energy consumption — from school districts heating their buildings to motorists gassing up their cars.
B.C. is the only jurisdiction in North America with a carbon tax and Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced last month the tax would be reviewed this year.
The Kamloops-Thompson school district paid more than $106,000 in carbon offsets in each of 2010 and 2011, part of more than $4-million paid by school districts to the Pacific Carbon Trust.
That money — including another $14 million from other public institutions — went to subsidize private-sector energy-efficiency projects.
The tax was phased in over five years, with increases coming each July.
This summer’s increase — which will add 1.2 cents to the cost of a litre of gasoline, Lake said — is the last one slated to take place.
Lake said it will be months before the future of the carbon tax is known, but he’s going to try to get feedback from British Columbians to see how they would like the policy to proceed.
He said he hopes to begin that public consultation with a Twitter town hall — where users of the social network will be able to interact with Lake and receive answers to their carbon-tax questions.
That will likely take place in the coming weeks.
Lake said he doesn’t foresee a decision on the future of the tax coming before the end of the year.