Parksville exempts housing society taxes

Kingsley Manor, Hustwick Place awarded 100 per cent exemptions

Parksville’s city council approved full permissive tax exemptions for a pair of affordable housing projects for the 2018 budget year, in a move that excludes the facilities from the city’s permissive exemption cap.

Kingsley Manor, operated by the Kingsley Low-cost Housing Society at 312 Hirst Ave. W. and Hustwick Place, operated by the Parksville Lions Housing Society at 205 Jensen Ave. E, will each receive a 100 per cent tax exemption for 2018 and beyond.

“I think we all understand we have, for years, been stating we support low-cost housing,” said Coun. Leanne Salter, who forwarded the motion. “This is a time we can speak to that by assisting this exemption.”

Parksville’s permissive tax exemption bylaw sets a cap on total allocation annually, which is divided among the qualifying groups that apply for exemptions. For the current tax year, the exemption is 82.5 per cent.

Both groups were previously approved for an exemption of 82.5 per cent of city property taxes, under the bylaw created beginning in 2013 that sets a cap on the total amount of permissive exemptions.

Duane Round of the Kingsley Low-cost Housing Society appeared as a delegation before council at its Dec. 4 meeting, along with Laurie Nickerson of the Parksville Lions Housing Society. Round requested a grant to cover the balance of Kingsley Manor’s tax bill above the 82.5 per cent figure, in order for the society to be able to set its rents.

The newly constructed, 28-unit Kingsley Manor is scheduled to open in mid-January of 2018, with rents ranging from $500 to $775.

In forwarding her motion, Salter said she had discussed the full tax exemption with the city’s director of finance, Lucky Butterworth, and learned the cost to taxpayers would be roughly 88 cents per $100,000 in assessed property value.

“It’s not that it’s over the top, as far as cost goes.”

The motion passed unanimously after minimal discussion, but led to a longer and wide-ranging discussion on the city’s permissive exemption bylaw and how it should apply to seniors and/or low-cost housing.

Coun. Kim Burden asked whether there were other affordable housing facilities that might qualify for a full exemption, and Coun. Sue Powell confirmed there were other groups with a total of approximately $13,000 in combined tax exemptions.

“You’re developing a policy that’s going to have some ramifications beyond what we’re trying to do for these deserving projects,” Burden said of Kingsley Manor and Hustwick Place, warning that precedent could bring a flood of similar applications.

But Round noted the other affordable housing projects in the city, operated by either the Lions Housing Society or Kingsley Low-cost Housing Society, receive operating funding that covers the non-exempt portion of their tax obligation.

“BC Housing a few years ago eliminated any operating funds, so at the end of the day we’ve got to operate the building with any rents we receive,” he said.

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