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PST exemption on heating costs for northern B.C. homes proposed by UBCM

When mercury falls below -20 C, electric heat pumps are inefficient for heating northern homes.
A Dawson Creek resolution asked for exemptions from heating fuel tax surcharge. /

Northern B.C. communities should be exempt from the five per cent provincial sales tax (PST) on fossil fuels for heating, Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) delegates voted Sept. 22.

A Dawson Creek resolution said the province initiated the tax in 2022 on all fossil fuel home heating systems, including central forced air furnaces, unit heaters, fireplaces, boilers, storage water heaters, instantaneous water heaters, air conditioners and even replacement parts for such systems.

Dawson Creek said the resolution should be endorsed considering the inefficiencies of electric heat pumps in heating northern homes when temperatures drop to -20 degrees Celsius or below.

The resolutions committee advised that the UBCM executive consider, but did not endorse, a resolution that asked the province to reverse its decision to add the PST back onto all fossil fuel and hot water appliances to encourage B.C. residents to revert to electric heat pumps and hot water tanks.

However, the committee noted that, in 2013, members endorsed a resolution asking the province to reinstate the PST in an equitable manner to:

• provide exemption or reimbursement of PST charges on energy purchased for the purpose of generating energy for resale;

• introduce former exemptions on production machinery and equipment for equipment purchased by district energy systems; and

• maintain, as per the former PST regulations, the PST exemption on the sale of heat to residential district energy consumers.

The committee noted Dawson Creek as the sponsor municipality specifically identified the northern regions of B.C. as the exemption area.

Still, the committee asked what other regions of the province that experience extreme cold temperatures that cannot be heated by fossil fuel free systems only.