MCC tax exemption granted

City will consider exemptions for other groups

The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will receive a tax exemption in 2015 for its new centre on Gladys Avenue for $76,000 – an estimated $60,000 more than in previous years due to the value of the land on which its new facility is being built.

While the city will review its policy for giving financial aid in early 2015, the decisions on next year’s tax exemptions must be approved by the end of October.

Council voted on Monday to extend exemptions to groups that have previously qualified, such as the Legion.

With MCC set to move by the end of the year, the organization asked the city to transfer their exemption to the larger and more valuable new location.

The MCC currently receives an exemption of about $16,872, which city staff recommended be the amount transferred to the new property.

Council had the option of providing a full exemption to the new location, valued at about $76,000.

Coun. John Smith said that as the MMC previously qualified, he was in support of transferring the full exemption, adding that the whole issue of which organizations will receive exemptions will be reviewed next year.

Coun. Dave Loewen said that when MMC was originally approved for an exemption, it was not tied to the property, but “to the work that they do.”

City staff also recommended that council deny new applications for 2015 exemptions from four local groups: BC Teen Challenge, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley Gleaners Society and the Red Cross Help Depot.

Coun. Henry Braun said he thought council should approve the requests, as some of the groups deal with marginalized citizens.

Coun. Patricia Ross said approving only some requests creates an inequity among groups that provide similar services.

Loewen said while he agreed with the sentiments of Braun and Ross, he is concerned about approving more exemptions because there may be many groups interested in the tax break in the future.

While the full exemption for MCC was approved, the decision on exemptions for the four local groups was deferred until Oct. 6 so staff can come back with dollar figures on the impact.

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