Letter: UVic’s grant in lieu of taxes must change

University's grant in lieu of taxes not fair to Oak Bay taxpayers

Having just turned 65 I get an additional $275 Home Owner Grant this year, but my birthday present from the province was completely snatched away by (Grinch) Oak Bay raising its taxes – by a bunch – yet again.

Small consolation was the thought that those with big lots must have had much larger tax increases than me.

Curious, I decided to find out what the biggest lots do pay. Who has the biggest lot of all?  Well UVic of course, and by far.

UVic and other government entities don’t pay taxes by mill-rate, but by grants in lieu of taxes.  UVic pays $57 thousand a year to Oak Bay. While that seems a lot, it is only double or triple the tax that any Uplands waterfront home pays. So I looked up how much other big government entities pay to other towns. The navy base pays Esquimalt $11 million. Million, not thousand.

The airport pays North Saanich $750,000. BC Ferries pays North Saanich $400,000.

Are our Oak Bay taxes higher than they should be because we are heavily subsidizing UVic?

That would be okay if 80 per cent of the students were from Oak Bay, but they are not.

By catering to foreign students, UVic has become a big and profitable business. If they had paid their fair share of taxes, then Oak Bay wouldn’t have needed to snatch my senior’s Home Owner Grant benefit – this year anyway.

Stephen Bowker

Oak Bay