Questions surround tax breaks for Campbell River non-profits

A local golf course is set to receive an exemption next year on its city property taxes despite some on council questioning its eligibility.

It is one of more than 80 community groups receiving an exemption.

Storey Creek Golf and Recreation Society was flagged by Mayor Andy Adams at a Sept. 12 council meeting when council was first presented with the list of organizations recommended for a Permissive Tax Exemption.

Adams voiced concerns that giving Storey Creek (which is a registered not-for-profit organization) a 100 per cent tax exemption, gives the business a competitive advantage over other similar operations.

Council asked city staff to report back on how other communities with more than one golf course handle such situations and at Tuesday’s council meeting, that report was on the table for council’s consideration.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield noted that, according to the report, that other communities broke down the exemption.

“I did notice that looking at some of the golf courses around the province that it’s split into two; there’s a business exemption and a recreation exemption. One would apply to the building and one would apply to the actual property that’s used for recreation, that’s especially important for a golf course,” Cornfield said. “So, are we exempting this as well as the land under the exemption for Storey Creek?”

Myriah Foort, the city’s chief financial officer, replied that “as it currently stands, yes, 100 per cent” is exempted.

Dennis Brodie, the city’s interim finance reporting officer, said the Community Partnership Committee, which is tasked with reviewing applications for the Permissive Tax Exemptions and then forwarding recommendations to council for approval, had a number of reasons for recommending the exemption for Storey Creek.

The committee found it met the criteria of the policy as follows: a non-profit organization that is of an athletic or service club association; and that the use of the land/improvements benefits the community in one or more of the following ways: provides recreational facilities for public use, provides recreation programs to the public, provides programs to and/or facilities used by youth, seniors or other special needs groups.

Brodie said the fact Storey Creek offers junior and senior programs at discounted rates and hosts a number of charity tournaments was also taken into consideration.

“Storey Creek confirmed they offer the use of the golf course and facilities at a discounted rate for many charities, both local and regional. The course offers use of the course for either a half day or a full day and the discount given to charities is approximately 30 per cent off the standard green fee,” Brodie said. “Storey Creek also donates many free rounds of golf to these charities to use as raffle and door prizes.”

Debra Olsen, business manager of Storey Creek, wrote in the golf course’s application that, “If Storey Creek was to receive this Permissive Property Tax Exemption, we would be able to keep our rates lower for both members and guests. It would also allow Storey Creek to continue to offer the charity tournaments their discounted rates.”

As for competing with another business, Brodie said the city’s policy on Permissive Tax Exemptions does address that issue, stating that: “Care must be taken to ensure that when a non-profit service is offered that competes with a licensed business that the non-profit service targets a sector of the community not served by business.”

Brodie said city staff contacted Storey Creek and a representative said that in their opinion, the course will not compete with the soon to be opened Campbell River Golf and Country Club in that “the courses will be significantly different in terms of design and amenities offered, that they will not compete for the same clientele.”

That seemed to satisfy council as it gave third reading to a lengthy list of tax exemptions recommended. All totalled, the tax breaks are worth $475,955 for several community groups for the year 2018.

Some of the groups that receive the tax break annually are: the SPCA, Campbell River and District Association for Community Living, Campbell River and District Food Bank Society, North Island Transition Society, Campbell River Family Services, Campbell River Head Injury Support Society, Campbell River Hospice Society, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (Restore), John Howard Society and the Royal Canadian Legion.

In order to qualify, the group must be a not-for-profit or a charitable or philanthropic organization that benefits the community either through: recreation, providing programs that benefit youth, seniors or other special needs groups, preserving heritage important to the community, preserving an environmentally significant area, offering cultural or educational programs, or offering services to the public in partnership with the city.


 

@CRMirror
kristend@campbellrivermirror.com

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