Abbotsford council is looking at almost $2.12 million in property-tax exemptions for local charities, sports groups and churches in 2022.
Council at its meeting on Monday (Oct. 4) gave the first three readings to the Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw for 2022. The bylaw must be adopted by Oct. 31 of the year before the tax exemptions are to apply.
The exemptions permit qualifying applicants to exempt land or improvements – or both – from property taxes.
Qualifying for the exemption in the category of “local authority properties” are BC Transit, The Reach Cultural Centre Society and Tourism Abbotsford.
A total of 49 not-for-profit properties qualify, including Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, the Salvation Army, Mennonite Central Committee and Cyrus Centre.
Sports group account for 30 of the permissive tax exemptions, while churches amount to 80.
Five applications from housing-based projects were denied while the city undergoes a comprehensive review of its tax-exemption policy, including how it relates to housing services such as care homes and private health-care facilities.
That review is expected to be complete and ready for council’s consideration in early 2022.
Mayor Henry Braun said he is looking forward to seeing the report, particularly after he looked back at past years and noticed the tax exemption amounted to $1.3 million around 2011 and is now at $2.166 million.
“My concern is how large does this tax exemption become, because there are people in our community who don’t think we should be doing any of this,” he said.
Coun. Ross Siemens said the exemptions are a “realistic way and helpful way” to partner with organizations that are providing much-needed services.
“A lot of the things that these organizations do are things that would cost the taxpayer a lot more if senior levels of government had to provide those services,” he said.