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Smithers to end Permissive Tax Exemption Program

It is slated to end for the 2025 taxation year
Smithers Town Hall. (Marisca Bakker/The Interior News)

Smithers town council has decided to do away with the town’s Permissive Tax Exemption (PTE) Program.

On July 18, the a Committee pf the Whole resolved to recommend to council to end it and at their regular meeting of council on Aug. 22. Council went with that recommendation.

That program cost the town $312,931 in 2022. The program runs on a three-year cycle, the current one being 2022 – 2024. It will end for the 2025 taxation year.

The list of properties affected by cancelling the program include assisted living facilities, seniors facilities, recreational facilities, property under partnering agreements, places of worship, private schools and non-profit organizations.

A few non-profit organizations that have enjoyed a tax break in the past spoke against the change at the meeting and more wrote letters.

Councillor Calvin Elliott was the only one to vote against the idea and said some of these service groups provide a lot of value to the community.

“I’m fully supportive of my taxes supporting very valuable and worthy organizations that provide services to Smithers,” he added.

But Councillor Laura Leonard argued the cost of the program was a burden to other property owners.

“A lot of these groups and associations have been given this exemption for many, many years,” she said. “When the cost really of these exemptions has been borne by other taxpayers in the community. I think it’s unfair from that standpoint.”

However, Councillor Frank Wray hinted that there may be other ways council can help organizations in need.

“Our work isn’t done here,” he said. “We’re not walking away on anybody if there’s any difficulty, I think it’s incumbent on us to help as well.”

While the program will end in 2025, there are a number of exceptions.

The committee of the whole agreed that the Wet’suwet’en Treaty Society should be treated as a governing body even though it currently does not have treaties with the federal and/or B.C. governments. Therefore their two properties will be granted a PTE until such time as a treaty or equivalent is reached.

The others are for properties that are currently subject to partnering agreements under lease.

The first is for the Rotary Club’s Gordon L. Williams Park (next to Subway on Hwy 16), which is currently subject to a partnering agreement with Cenovus Energy (Husky) until 2032.

Another is the Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue’s facility at the Smithers airport, which is under lease until 2042.

There are also several properties that fall under the culture and recreation umbrella for which the Town has leasing arrangements.

These include art gallery and studio space on Railway Avenue, the Old Church on First Avenue, the Central Park building and museum storage space at Town Hall.

Aid for these will be reviewed as leases expire.

READ MORE: Committee of the Whole votes to end permissive tax exemptions


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Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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