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Telkwa Mayor ‘disappointed’ by Senior Society’s letter

Also at Telkwa council, air monitor grant turned down because of Northern Health restrictions.
Archive photo

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen responded to Telkwa Senior Housing Society’s claims in a letter to the editor in the Dec. 27 edition of The Interior News that the Village “screwed [them] out of $13,000” at the Jan. 8 council meeting.

“We’re not screwing the Senior Society out of $13,000. We provide them their garbage pick-up, their water, their sewer, their road maintenance and many other things that the Village does for other residents, and they don’t pay nearly as much as other residents do right now,” said Repen.

In the letter Telkwa Senior Housing Society president John McDivitt claims the society has been repeatedly turned down for a tax exemption.

Repen said the land the senior society is on receives a tax exemption every year.

The mayor also stated that between 2012-2015 the eight housing units the senior society owned were assessed at $266,000 to 287,000, which works out to $40,000 a unit.

In 2018 being assessment was bumped up to $75,000 a unit.

“When you look at the actual taxation for each of those units, it is less than $100 a month per unit,” said Repen. “Quite frankly, I think that the taxation that is being paid by the seniors housing society, if it isn’t the most beneficial taxation arrangement in the village, the only ones that might beat it are the churches.”

The mayor said in 2016 and 2017 the society paid no taxes because the Province had shifted them to a grant-in-lieu process without notifying the Village.

“I think they’re upset that they probably had to pay some back taxes,” said Repen. “They were well aware they were not paying taxes for those two years and they didn’t contact us or B.C. housing.”

This is an issue between the senior housing society and B.C. housing and not an issue of the Village, the mayor said.

Council agreed to meet with housing society to discuss their concerns at a later date.

Purple Air monitors

The Village received an update on its application to Northern Health’s Imagine Grant Program for $1,200 in funds to buy three Purple Air monitors.

Northern Health approved funding but has some conditions. The public is not allowed to access information from the monitors and the data they collect can’t be live. Instead, Northern Health wants to track the data the monitors collect over the course of a couple of months and then write a report based on that information.

Council decided to turn down the grant.

“We don’t really want to be under restrictions of the provincial government in terms of allowing the public to access information about the air quality in Telkwa,” said Repen. “We’re going to move ahead. I’ve got communications with Dave Stevens [president of The Bulkley Valley Lakes District Airshed Management Society] right now about how to move forward and perhaps fundraise, or see other contributions, for additional air monitors in the village.”

The village currently has one air monitor installed at the Telkwa office building. It does not measure air quality on a ministry level.

That monitor was built by the engineering school at Utah University. Because of this it uses an American measurement system which differs from the system the B.C. government uses.

This could lead to confusion as a reading on the American system could mean danger while in the B.C. system it could be harmless, Councillor Brad Layton said.

Northern Health declined to comment on Telkwa’s application as the application program is still on-going and nothing as been finalized. The organization said it’s willing to discuss Telkwa’s application once the process is complete.

The air monitor that is already installed in the village has live data and is accessible to the public. The monitor was paid for by Telkwa therefore North Health cannot place any restrictions on it, but since the new air monitors would be bought using a North Health grant they can dictate how the monitor will be used.

Smithers’ air monitor is live and accessible to the public. It is a ministry issued monitor and using the same measurements as the B.C. government, thus there won’t be any confusion when people check its data.

“Ultimately what we would like is to see the ministry put their own ministry monitor back in the village,” said Repen. “I think that would solve a lot of problems in terms of them having concerns about having a Purple Air monitor with live data going online.”