Nelson council debates tax exemptions

Non-profit groups that own property are eligible for tax exemptions if council is convinced they do good work for the community as a whole.

Non-profit groups and churches that own property are eligible for tax exemptions if council is convinced they do good work for the community as a whole.

At its September 18 meeting, Nelson city council considered a list of non-profit organizations in Nelson that may be exempted from property taxes for the next three years.

Almost half of those organizations are churches, but church exemptions amount to less than 10 per cent of the total of $42,476.

That total is slightly more ($1,709 more) than .5 per cent of the city’s total property tax levy, which is the upper limit that a previous council imposed on total allowable permissive tax exemptions for each year.

Municipalities are not required to give organizations tax exemptions. But every three years Nelson council considers applications from various community groups for exemptions, and adjudicates the requests so that their total fits within the .5 per cent cap.

This year’s adjudication was done at a closed meeting, and the results were discussed at the public council meeting.

There was considerable discussion about whether to exceed the .5 per cent, with Councillors Bob Adams and Robin Cherbo saying it was only a small amount over, and others, including Councillor Janice Morrison, saying it should be brought in line because exceeding a limit is a slippery slope.

Ultimately the decision was to allow the extra expense.

The city’s policy is that non-profit organizations, including churches, are eligible for a permissive tax exemption if the organization:

  • Provides needed social and community services to city residents.
  • Provides arts, cultural or recreational activities of demonstrable benefit to city residents.
  • Has the ability to raise its own revenues.
  • Offers its services primarily to the broader community of citizens.

The policy also states that an exemption will not be granted if it would result in an inappropriate shifting of costs from other levels of government to local taxpayers.

While a federal government exemption means a municipality cannot tax the property churches sit on, it can tax the property around the church, such as the yard and parking lot.

Should churches be given tax exemptions by municipalities, and how should the amount of their exemption be decided? For example, how should council judge the amount of social services a church offers?

Cherbo and Adams said to make this determination, council would have to ask every church to come in and explain what social services they offer. Other councillors pointed out that this had already been done: that all organizations asking for exemptions were asked, on the application form and in their presentation to council, to give details of this.

Cherbo was adamant that all churches should be given full exemptions because they all provide a service to the community that cannot be measured and cannot be properly compared with other churches.

Some councillors said some churches only serve their own congregations and others are obviously involved with the larger community. The tricky question is how to to accurately gauge this.

Councillor Anna Purcell summed up the quandary by saying, “I don’t love that churches get the exemption they already get, but I feel uncomfortable getting rid of it.”

The proposal that will go to first reading at the next city council meeting has the organizations receiving full exemptions except where indicated .

Ascension Lutheran Church $445

Bethel Christian Centre $739

Cathedral of Mary Immaculate— $211

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints $251 (partial)

First Baptist Church $258

Kootenay Christian Fellowship $1153 (partial)

Nelson Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses $426

Nelson Evangelical Covenant Church $102

Nelson United Church $126

Salvation Army $3272 (partial)

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church $404

St. Saviors Anglican Pro-Cathedral— $180

Granite Pointe Golf Club $6,922

Nelson Red Cross $889 (partial)

Kootenay Co-op Radio $962 (partial)

Kootenay Kids Society, Silica St. $3,536 (partial)

Kootenay Kids Society, Stanley St. $640

West Kootenay Women’s Association $1,258

Kalein Hospice Centre Society $1,393 (partial)

Nelson Kiwanis Projects Society Gordon Road $3,339

Nelson Kiwanis Projects Society Sixth St. $5,249

Nelson CARES Society Vernon St. $2,647

Nelson CARES Society Nelson Ave. $3734 (partial)

Nelson CARES Society Ward St. $3,109 (partial)

Total: $42,476

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitewater’s Adam Kuch to compete at Freeride Junior World Championship

Kuch is one of four Canadians competing in his division

GREG SCOTT: Lack of snow threatens Nelson’s winter carnival

In 1970, the Winter Carnival Society was fretting over whether the third annual event would go ahead

Stepping Stones in need of clothing donations

The Nelson shelter is asking for help

Nelson launches citizen survey on climate change

Survey can be filled out online until Jan. 31

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Interior Health issues drug alert in Kamloops

Testing of two samples of drugs sold as crystal meth was positive for fentanyl

Most Read