Permissive policy still taxing Parksville city council

City staff has now been asked to come up with some options to treat organizations like the curling club

Like an overthrown rock that won’t stop in the house, the issue over what and how much the Parksville Curling Club should pay in taxes just keeps on sliding.

City council grappled with the issue once again this week, eventually directing staff to review options for creating a new category that may excuse the curling club from paying any city taxes.

Council spent more than 30 minutes Monday night debating what the curling club provides the community and what it should pay, if anything. Coun. Mary Beil introduced a motion to give the club a 100 per cent exemption. Eventually, even Beil voted against her own motion, as council decided to once again look at the bigger picture of the whole policy instead of just one club.

Coun. Sue Powell argued that the curling club operates under “exceptional circumstances” with an “extremely old building” and should be treated through a “different category” in the city’s permissive tax policy.

Coun. Kirk Oates agreed, but warned against developing policies that are too specific to one group.

“I think making policy that’s specific to one organization is dangerous,” said Oates.

Coun. Al Greir was part of the previous council’s committee that developed the permissive tax policy. The policy’s goal is to gradually (over 10 years) reduce what the city forgives in taxes to 1.67 per cent of property tax revenue. Currently, the city forgives just under $200,000 in taxes, or 1.82 per cent of property tax revenue.

On Monday, Greir reminded the current council that this policy was passed unanimously by the previous council. He argued for the status quo.

This year, the curling club successfully lobbied council for a grant that would cover their taxes. In fact, the city will lose money on the deal, providing the curling club with a $3,000 grant-in-aid that will cover the club’s total tax bill this year. However, about half of that grant money will go to other taxing authorities like the school district, while the city will get back about $1,500 in tax revenue.

Organizations that want tax exemptions for 2016 must have applications into the city by the end of June. Policy or not, city council still has the option to give grants or pass a motion moving groups into 50 per cent or 100 per cent exempt status.

Other news from city council’s meeting Monday night:

• Council agreed it would not be possible to support a watersport rental business in the Community Park this summer. Kevin Forsythe of Windsurfing Parksville told city council on

May 4 he has been asked to leave the location he’s had for years, providing paddle boards, kayaks and windsurfing lessons. Forsythe asked council for a spot somewhere in the park to continue his rental business after he said the owners of the boarded-up Parksville Beach Resort told him he must vacate their property just off the boardwalk.

• Council approved a development permit to Taran Williams on behalf of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort for a complete renovation of the exterior façade of the Gabriola building, including resurfacing of 27 decks and replacement of exterior siding, railings and exterior treatments.

• Staff was directed by council to proceed through either city staff or private contractor to undertake clean-up at an unsightly property at 609 Turner Road, at the registered owner’s expense. If expenses are not paid by the end of the current year, those costs will be added to the property tax bill.

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