The Village of Telkwa has denied a request from a non-profit association to skip out on their property taxes this year. The Treehouse Housing Association was created for the purpose of educating and caring for the children of Telkwa. The Ark Playday Centre has been providing child care for more than 30 years.
The association wrote a letter to council asking them for a permissive property tax exemption for this year and outlined their struggles with closing for seven weeks due to COVID-19.
Council sympathized with their request.
“How can we support our businesses?” asked Deputy Mayor Annette Morgan. “I actually lose sleep about if businesses close, we all fail especially during COVID-19 but reducing our revenues also doesn’t provide entire support.”
CAO Debbie Joujan mentioned the money still needs to come from somewhere.
“This is a tricky one because we want to help we also don’t want to take away from others. If we don’t charge that person or non-profit, that money the other people in that taxation class pay for it,” she said.
Councillor Derek Meerdink also tossed out an idea to partially exempt or forgive some of their municipal tax bill.
However director of finance Leslie Ford told councillors at their meeting on June 9 that they legally can’t grant them the exemption for this year.
“A tax exemption has to be approved the year before, so for council to have given the exemption to this group it would have had to been in last year’s permissive tax bylaw,” she explained. “A lot of their bill is water, sewer and garbage. Only of that bill, $4,477, their taxes are $2,849 and of that, probably 50 per cent is the other taxing authorities. The other taxing authorities have already included this assessment in their calculations. So what council could do this year, is give an actual grant but it would have to come out of Telkwa’s operating budget and council would have to find its own funding source for a grant.”
Council directed staff to come up with some options to help them, such as a grant, and report back at a future meeting.
ECE Manager for the Treehouse Housing Association Norma Stokes wasn’t surprised her request was turned down. She’s applied for the last several years and always been denied. But she said any sort of support right now would be beneficial.
The daycare was closed in mid-March and reopened in mid-May, but with only a limited number of children. A lot of their summer programs have also been canceled or scaled back.
“The Ark would love it if the village would support a daycare that has been supporting them, the community, for over 30 years,” she said. “We are a non-profit society, Treehouse Housing Association runs the daycare and other programs in the community.”