$816,602 in tax exemptions given Campbell River groups

City council gives 69 community groups a tax break

The city is set to grant 69 community organizations permissive tax exemptions.

On Monday morning, council gave first two readings to a bylaw that will give total property tax exemptions of $816,602 to charitable, philanthropic and other non-profit groups that provide community services.

Of that, $427,051 is provided by the city and the remaining $389,551 is picked up by the hospital district, school board, and regional district – the other taxing agencies.

Terry Jacques, vice-chair of the Community Partnership Committee, said this year’s set of applications for property tax exemptions was fairly cut and dry.

“Fortunately there was nothing too contentious like in previous years where we had to look up the definition of a church,” Jacques told council. “It was pretty straightforward.”

Last year, the committee had the difficult task of revoking permissive tax exemptions for six non-profit groups after the city received legal advice that any group which did not own its building or hold a capital lease on the property was no longer eligible for the tax break.

That ruling was overturned, however, weeks later following complaints to the province about the new interpretation of the Community Charter and the tax exemptions were reinstated.

This year, the Community Partnership Committee recommended council accept every application except for one – from the Eagles Water Ski Club based out of McIvor Lake.

Barry Watchorn, the chair of the committee, wrote in a letter to council that the group has been receiving a statutory exemption from BC Assessment in error and now requires a permissive tax exemption from the city in order to maintain its tax exempt status.

“Unfortunately, the club has let its society status lapse and its lease agreement with the city has expired,” Watchorn wrote. “In order to be eligible for a permissive tax exemption, the club must first have its society status re-instated and although the club has been working on this process, it will take several months to complete.”

Unfortunately for the club, council is expected to have already adopted the tax exemption bylaw by October 31.

Watchorn said the ski club is encouraged to re-apply for the tax exemption once its society status is re-instated and its lease with the city is renewed.

The Willow Creek Conservation area, similar to the ski club, had also been erroneously receiving a statutory exemption from BC Assessment but the committee recommended council instead grant the Nature Trust of BC caretakers a permissive tax exemption from the city in order to retain its tax exemption.

Other new permissive tax exemptions for 2014 will be given to the North Island Transition Society for the brand-new Rose Harbour affordable housing complex for women and children and the Comox Valley Regional District for the Campbell River dump. Permissive tax exemptions will also go to the Association for Community Living, the Museum, Art Gallery and Tourist Centre, the Campbell River and District Winter Club, the Food Bank Society, the Campbell River Child Care Society, the Arts Council, Rivercorp, Campbell River Family Services, the Figure Skating Club, Fish and Wildlife Association, Gymnastics Association, Head Injury Society, Campbell River Minor Hockey, Campbell River Search and Rescue Society, River City Players and several other community organizations including church groups.