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Council throws cold water on snowmobile carbon levy proposal

Revelstoke council takes no action on letter by NCES asking for carbon levy, saying it would be divisive
Supporters of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club gather in council chambers to show their opposition to a proposed carbon levy. ~ Photo by Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review

Revelstoke council didn’t show any warmth to a request by the North Columbia Environmental Society to place a carbon levy on snowmobilers.

“I think this could be a big controversial issue that will put community members against each other when what should be really be doing is looking at the strides we’ve made to take environmental issues seriously,” said Mayor Mark Mckee during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The NCES wrote a letter to council asking for the city to stop promoting snowmobiling and other motorized recreation, and to charge a $2.50 fee on daily snowmobile passes.

The letter argued that making that such moves would demonstrate the city’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposal was roundly criticized by the snowmobile community, who noted the economic benefits the sport brings to Revelstoke and the fact they already pay a carbon tax on fuel. About a dozen members of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club were in attendance to demonstrate their opposition to the levy.

Council decided to let the letter rest at the table, instead of sending it to committee to looked at the NCES’ requests in more detail.

“I think the recreational community has made incredible strides inwards in looking at their equipment and making sure not only is it safe, but safe for the environment,” said councillor Gary Sulz. “I think there’s no sense in us stoking that fire, that no matter what you’re doing to go forward, this is something we should kibosh.”

Coun. Aaron Orlando raised issues of fairness and wondered how the line would be drawn at who should pay the levy. “I’m reluctant to refer something to staff and take up staff time on something I don’t think will get support when it comes back to the table,” he said.