Kimberley City Council has voted in favour of seeking a method of taxing the planned Purcell International Education (PIE) private school, which has yet to begin construction.

The plan, according to the resolution presented by Councillor Kent Goodwin, is to present a resolution to the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments to remove Group 4 independent schools from their tax exemption or provide compensatory grants from the B.C. Government to communities with Group 4 schools.

The City of Kimberley said that it will be seeking to offset the costs of having a potential 600 person student body added to the community. It said this addition represents up to a 7.5% increase to Kimberley’s population and could strain municipal services such as transit, bylaw enforcement, policing and road and trail maintenance.

Purcell Collegiate is classified as a Group 4 independent school, which is a non-funded school catering to mainly non-provincial students and is exempt from taxes under the B.C. legislature.

The City will be working on a tight schedule, as the resolution was passed on Monday, February 10th, and the deadline for this year’s application is Thursday, February 13th. Kimberley’s Mayor feels there is still plenty of work to do, but it is a step in the right direction.

“The principle here is that category four schools are private schools and they are for-profit schools,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “Given that they are for-profit, taxation should, in fact, be applicable. That’s the principle we’re going to move forward with, but at this point in time, there’s a lot more data to be collected and the resolution to be refined.”

McCormick also said that he believes that businesses are largely content with being taxed at a fair rate, and it should include Purcell Collegiate.

“It has been discussed with PIE in the past, but it has mostly been an academic conversation however because the fact is that BC legislation makes group four schools exempt,” said McCormick. “I don’t think any business is opposed to taxation as long as it is fair and equitable, and I’m sure Purcell feels the same way.”

Mayor McCormick added that the school still has to go through a few more stages of approval before the construction begins. Late in January, PIE had announced it had finalized its purchase of the course from the Kimberley Gold Club.

According to the provincial government, there are currently 11 Group 4 schools with 1,061 students.

More: Purcell International Education and Kimberley Golf Club Work on Course Improvements (January 27, 2020)

More: Planned Kimberley Private School Educates Public on its Progress (December 6, 2019)