Coquitlam woman calls for cap on large cash payments to city hall

Police say they have charged two men and are seeking a third after an elderly Pickering man was allegedly defrauded of thousands of dollars.
Police say they have charged two men and are seeking a third after an elderly Pickering man was allegedly defrauded of thousands of dollars. The Canadian Press Images / Nathalie Madore

A Coquitlam woman says too many people are paying their property taxes in her city with large envelopes of cash.

Janice, who spoke on the condition that she be identified by her first name only, said she was speaking out after noticing the transactions at city hall last week.

“There’s 20 or 30 people ahead of me with envelopes of cash,” said Janice.

She waited in line last Friday and made the observation that something didn’t look right.

“You’re looking at a minimum of $5,000 cash, I’ve never seen this going on before. Just because the money laundering story has been going on, I took note of it, and I thought, ‘This is bizarre.'”

She wants the city to put a cap on cash payments over concerns it could be a loophole for money laundering, and that the money is potentially the proceeds of crime.

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“You can pay it online, it’s like the money wasn’t going through the banking system, it’s like there was no accountability,” said Janice.

READ MORE: B.C. government attempting crackdown on possible money laundering through university tuitions fees

Coquitlam’s mayor Richard Stewart says there’s no need to cap cash payments because anything over $10,000 requires paperwork to the federal government.

But he would support a cap if the provincial or federal government implemented one.

“Each local government shouldn’t be setting it’s own threshold. Those thresholds should be set nationally and we will all abide by them,” said Stewart.

So far this year Coquitlam has received 159 cash payments over $5,000 and three over $10,000.

READ MORE: Vancouver councillor calls for greater oversight into cash payments at city hall

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West has been outspoken about money laundering and believes all municipalities should be looking for potential loopholes in the system.

He said he would support a cap and agrees with Stewart that any cap should be region-wide and implemented by federal or provincial governments.

“I’d be supportive of having a cap and I think it would be important it be something that’s coordinated across the region and province. I don’t think it’s a necessity to honestly be paying anything over $10,000 in property taxes in cash,” said West.

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West says in Port Coquitlam, less than two percent of residents pay property taxes in cash, mostly seniors.

Earlier this year the City of Vancouver said it would no longer accept cash payments over $10,000.

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