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Christian housing society receives grant in lieu of tax exemption

Due to a ‘miscommunication’ the society was not included in 2021 permissive taxation exemption bylaw
Smithers Town Hall. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Smithers council has approved a Grant in Aid for the Bulkley Valley Christian Housing Society (BVCHS) to pay 2021 taxes.

Under normal circumstances, permissive taxation exemptions are granted to organizations at the discretion of council for three year cycles.

But due to a miscommunication between the Town and BVCHS, the society’s application was not completed last year meaning the society is on the hook for approximately $8,841 based on its 2021 property assessment and calculated at 2020 tax rates.

In a report to council, staff recommended a Grant in Aid since BVCHS did not receive its permissive taxation exemption for the year.

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Permissive taxation exemptions are usually extended to places of worship, private schools, certain seniors care facilities, hospitals and various other not-for-profit organizations and societies. This also includes athletic and service clubs/associations.

“The Town of Smithers recognizes the significant value of volunteers, volunteer groups and agencies to the spiritual, educational, social, cultural and physical well being of the community,” a policy statement regarding permissive taxation exemptions reads.

In 2016, council approved a new Grant-in-Aid Policy, “Policy FIN-015, Funding External Organizations.”

This policy specifies annual funding go to the Smithers Public Library, Bulkley Valley Museum, Smithers Art Gallery, and the Bulkley Valley Arts Council.

“There will be no more grants approved other then to the organizations named above,” it reads on the Smithers Town website.

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The staff report does make mention of this fact, noting “the request does not fall under the scope of the Town’s FIN-015, “Funding External Organizations Policy, but Council reserves the right to waive or make exception to any part of the “Funding Organizations” policy.”

Council passed the recommendation unanimously.

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