The BC government is taking steps to provide some short term property tax relief for businesses in the province.

It has released a plan to lower commercial property tax payments by an average of 25 percent and postpone the date that late payment penalties start to apply for commercial properties in several different classifications.

That date is being pushed back until October first to give businesses and landlords more time to pay without penalty.

The province says it will also take steps to support local governments facing temporary revenue shortfalls and meet operational costs.

A call for the annual property tax payment deadline to be moved back to the autumn was originally made by the Municipality of North Cowichan and backed by other civic politicians and the Union of BC Municipalities.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring says Thursday morning’s announcement by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selena Robinson falls short of what they were seeking.

Siebring says he’s pleased to see what they’ve done for light industry and commercial property owners, but adds, “I’m not seeing a lot of relief there for residential.”

The deadline for residential tax payments is still July 2, and Siebring says they had “advocated strongly to extend that one, as well, to October.”

Other measures introduced by the province include authorizing local governments to borrow, interest-free, from their existing capital reserves to help pay for operating expenses, such as employee salaries.

There will be a delay for municipalities in provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year, to help them meet their obligations to regional districts, regional hospital districts, and other recipients.

Municipalities will have greater flexibility to carry debts for an additional year.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selena Robinson says, “local governments have already shown leadership by taking steps to help people and businesses and maintain services while addressing their finances.”