It has been a busy two weeks in Mission with plenty of unexpected issues to deal with. The self-isolation due to COVID-19, the ongoing crisis at Mission Institution with close to 70 positive tests among the inmate population and last week’s fire destroying several downtown stores: The news hasn’t been overly positive.
However, the district is trying to find ways to ease some of the financial burdens caused by COVID-19 that residents and business owners are facing.
Mike Younie, CAO of the district, said the province of BC has announced it plans to defer the payment of commercial property taxes until Oct. 1, instead of Mission’s original deadline of July 2. He also said staff will ask council to do the same for residential property taxes in Mission.
“We have to bring our annual property tax rate bylaw to council in early May and we’re going to put that question to council: Do they want to make it a consistent payment date?” explained Younie, adding he believes council might agree to that proposal.
Mission Mayor Pam Alexis agrees.
“I can’t see us having one rule for one group of taxpayers and another rule for another group, I just can’t see that,” she said.
The proposed deferral is scheduled to be discussed at the May 4 council meeting.
Mission is also looking at the possibility of waiving some public hearings.
“Under the local government act there is an allowance to waive a public hearing for a rezoning that is consistent with the official community plan. You cannot waive the public hearing to do with an OCP amendment, but you can do it in certain cases for the rezoning,” Younie said.
The need for social distancing makes it almost impossible to hold a normal public hearing, so waiving them in certain situations is a way to keep things moving during the pandemic.
Younie said waiving a public hearing is “not considered best practice” but can be used if a rezoning is not “complex or comprehensive or controversial.” He used secondary suites as an example.
By waiving a public hearing – which is a rarely used tool recently emphasized by the provincial government to help local government do business – the public can still provide input before third reading is given.
Residents can submit concerns and comments in writing to be debated by council.
Spring Clean Up:
This year’s Spring Clean Up event has been postponed. According to the district website, the event will be rescheduled to take place in late September or early October.