Telkwa mayor hopes to draw new business to the north

Telkwa mayor hopes to draw new business to the north

The mayor of Telkwa is looking to draw new opportunities to the region as business owners in the Lower Mainland are rethinking their options amid rising taxes and property values.

Speaking to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako board of directors on Jan. 17, mayor Brad Layton explained that BC Assessment’s publication of its annual property values revealed the very high rates in the Greater Vancouver area relative to northern British Columbia.

Layton said that he spoke on the phone with a factory owner in Burnaby who is feeling the strain of property values.

“His employees are struggling too because they’re having to go further away to find affordable housing,” Layton told Black Press.

They spoke about the possibility of relocating the factory – which employs 125 people – to somewhere with lower costs, as the factory doesn’t have to be based in Burnaby.

“How many more down there are struggling or could be closing because of costs?” Layton asked.

“He is concerned that if the mill rates are not adjusted significantly he could be paying hundreds of thousands more in taxes this year.”

Land values in Burnaby (North Fraser) in the major industry class have risen 33 per cent in 2019 to $599.6 million, and 28 per cent in light industry to $4.7 billion, according to BC Assessment.

By contrast, the land values for major industry in this area (Northwest) rose 3 per cent from last year and stand at $1 billion, and rose 13 per cent for light industry which sits at $107.9 million.

The mayor’s next step is to seek other leaders in northern B.C. who might be interested in attracting business from the south.

“I’m going to talk to other mayors in the region and see if we can…take a collaborative approach on letting businesses know in the Lower Mainland that we’re open for business and it could be an alternative to the high costs they’re facing both for employees and property values.”

Layton emphasized that the infrastructure and costs in the north favour new industry.

“The former mayor of Telkwa Darcy Repen said we’ve got fibre optics for communication, we’ve got rail through our community, we’ve got highway, we’re only 300km from a world class port. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have that industry in our area. Even Apple, a lot of their employees work remotely.”

“If we want to broaden our base beyond just forestry and mining we have to pursue these opportunities.”