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Free ride over in Parksville?

Tax exemptions for community come under scrutiny in Parksville

This could be the last year some community organizations are spared from paying property taxes.

Parksville council granted almost $240,000 in tax exemptions at their last meeting and will review the program in light of fiscal pressures.

They approved their annual Permissive Taxation Bylaw on Oct. 15, exempting 23 community and not-for-profit organizations from property taxes.

The groups, including the seniors drop-in centre, Society of Organized Services, Nature Trust of B.C., cadets, lawn bowling club and churches, apply for the exemption every year, receiving up to a 100 per cent exemption.

Council has spoken several times over the last couple years about a major review of the program, which mayor Chris Burger reiterated they would do at the end of this year.

Burger said the entire program is in question and council would need to go through a proper process and public notification before making any changes either way.

While councillor Al Grier didn’t say anything this time around, he has made his opposition to the existence of the program very clear in previous years and discussions.

The bylaw had to be adopted before Oct. 31 to take effect for the 2013 taxation year.