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Councillor fights propane fee

Williams Lake councillor Scott Nelson is broiling over the BC Safety Council’s proposed commercial and industrial propane tank permit fee.
Scott Nelson protests BC Safety Council’s proposed propane tank permit fees.

Williams Lake city councillor Scott Nelson is broiling over the BC Safety Council’s proposed commercial and industrial propane tank permit fee.

“It is a multi-million dollar tax grab and attack on rural British Columbians,” said Nelson, who owns Best Buy Propane in the lakecity.

BCSA is proposing a $27 annual fee for tanks 80 to 999 gallons and $38 for tanks between 1,000 to 1,999 gallons, effective Feb. 1, 2016.

Homeowners using propane tanks for residential use are exempt from paying the fees.

“They’ve used the gun registry as a template,” Nelson said.

As he picked up a stack of propane container report forms his company has been submitting to BCSA for the last nine years, he suggested the industry is already making sure propane tank information is being managed.

BCSA’s director of stakeholder engagement Quinn Newcomb emphasized Thursday the permit fee is not a tax grab.

“We are an independent not-for-profit organization in the province that oversees the safe installation and operation of seven different technologies,” Newcomb said. “Gas and propane vessels are two of those.”

As a not-for-profit they run a balanced budget, and any fees for permits go directly to administer the BCSA’s safety system that oversees those technical systems.

The fees go to help pay for safety officer inspections, administering permit applications, eduction programs and enforcement action they may need to take when equipment may pose a hazard.

Since 2004, propane pressure vessels over 80 gallons have required a permit in B.C.

“There has been a fee required for operating permits but back in June we clarified we were going to be more stringent “ Newcomb said, noting the fee collecting has been put on hold for now.

Nelson admitted he had an inclination the fees were coming, but said he thought industry was still in negotiation with the BCSC.

A chart provided by the BCSC also shows that the permit fees will increase each year. Nelson said that will be hard for businesses such as resorts with several tanks on their properties.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett has been working steadily with the Canadian Propane Association since 2012.

“On March 18, 2015 Scott Nelson contacted me with concerns about the proposed fees,” Barnett said. “I know the tanks are continuing to be filled for now, but on a personal level I don’t agree with the fees either.”

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

Monica Lamb-Yorski has covered news for the Williams Lake Tribune since November 2011.
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