March 18, 2016 12:44 am
Updated: August 6, 2016 3:56 pm

B.C. government wants new wireless levy to pay for for 911 services

WATCH: A plan to put a levy on wireless devices to modernize and subsidize 911 service in the province is getting a no vote from Metro Vancouver. Ted Chernecki explains why those opposed see it as unfair and how much it is expected to cost.

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A plan to put a levy on wireless devices to modernize and subsidize 911 service in the province is getting a no vote from Metro Vancouver – at least when it comes to the proposed funding mechanism.

“We talk about transit and transportation expansion. That seems to be an all-use pay system here in Metro Vancouver,” says Metro Vancouver Chair Greg Moore, who argues that lower mainland cell phone users shouldn’t pay for expanded service in the rest of B.C.

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“Tolls, transit, gas tax, we’re paying it here. It’s not being paid all over the province to subsidize it here. So in this case, why is it okay we subsidized a 911 service around the province on local taxes, and not the other way around?”

“If you have a business and one property and 100 cell phones, your bill is going to go up substantially.”

Currently, there’s a four dollar charge on property tax to finance the $3.9 million annually needed to run the service. But the province wants to scrap that and add anywhere from 20 to 30 cents per cell phone.

With many families having three or more cell phones, if approved it could mean a more than doubling of the 911 tax.

“This levy, when going in that direction is going to modernize the 911 system in B.C. so we can cover the entire province and offer that service to all British Columbians,” said Minister of Public Safety.

“It’s going to accommodate texting, it’s going to accommodate pictures, all of which form a valuable part of 911 systems in North America and throughout the world.”

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