The Parksville Legion is wondering what makes them so special in the eyes of city tax collectors.
Branch 49 second vice-president Don Livingstone appeared before city council on Monday night, asking for a full exemption of the organization’s property taxes. He told council his research revealed that 14 other Legion branches in the mid-Island region have been exempted by their respective municipalities.
“None of them pay real property taxes,” said Livingstone, who also spoke on behalf of the Parksville Lawn Bowling Club, where he is the group’s secretary.
The city owns the land on which the lawn bowling club sits, on Stanford Avenue. The club leases the property from the city for $1/year. It does not, however, pay property taxes to the city, and the city is looking to change that for groups like the lawn bowling club, Legion, curling club and other organizations.
In years past, these clubs were 100 per cent exempt from paying property taxes. The city now wants to charge them 50 per cent of the full tax bill, which means thousands of dollars out of the coffers of these non-profit organizations.
“There is no reference in the lease between the City of Parksville and the (lawn bowling) club to pay real taxes whatsoever,” said Livingstone.
Livingstone presented council with a detailed account of the budgets for both the lawn bowling club and the Legion. He also provided detail on the services provided to community through the Legion.
Council thanked Livingstone for his presentation but made no decision in reference to the requests, except a commitment to have a look at the wording in the lawn bowling club’s lease.
The Legion, if the 50 per cent exempt policy was in effect for 2014, would have had to pay the city $4,277 in property taxes. The lawn bowling club did pay $4,100 in property taxes this year.
In other city council news from Monday’s meeting:
• Council agreed with a staff request to change the city’s snow-removal policy. Staff said the standards for priorities in the current policy are dated (it was last revised in 1997) and could not be realized because the city has more sidewalks and paved areas now.
• A boost from the Lions Club means the playground in Community Park will get more of an upgrade than what was originally planned. The city had $37,000 in the budget for the upgrades this year, and was expecting $10,000 from the Lions Club. The club has told the city some successful fundraising efforts have allowed the club to donate an additional $10,000 for the upgrades.
• Council has agreed to accept cash-in-lieu of parkland ($31,500) for a subdivision at 577 Pym St. The money must be put in a reserve that can only be used for purchasing other parkland. Coun. Bill Neufeld was the only councillor opposed to accepting the cash.
• With no correspondence from residents and not one person coming to the microphone to speak on the topic, council held a speedy public hearing on bylaws “to implement regulations to address the the accommodation of Health Canada licensed medical marijuana facilities.”