The Matsqui unit of the Army Navy Air Force (ANAF) Veterans in Canada will not be receiving a tax break from the city.
Council denied the group a tax exemption worth approximately $3,300.
Each year, the city allows tax exemptions for qualifying associations. The groups can qualify under several categories including not-for-profit, local government, athletic or service clubs and religious, private schools or revitalization.
The city will allow exemptions ($1.52 million worth) for the same groups that qualified last year, but have denied any new requests.
A staff report recommended denying applications from BC Teen Challenge, Creative Centre, Elizabeth Fry Society, John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland, LIFE Recovery Association, Mennonite Historical Society of BC and Galaxy Bowl. However, because the Abbotsford Legion already receives a tax exemption, the recommendation was made to approve the ANAF request.
Coun. Henry Braun said in the absence of a policy, it is difficult to decide who should and should not receive a tax exemption. He compared it to “picking winners and losers.”
“I just felt that on principle, I couldn’t, as much as I would like to from an emotional point of view, support this,” said Braun.
But Coun. John Smith disagreed and said he supports giving assistance to the ANAF.
Smith told council that his father was thrilled when he told him he was immigrating to Canada because of the brave way young Canadians came to England’s defence during the Second World War.
“Maybe I’m a sentimentalist on this but I’m going to support the vets. These are people who put it on the line and I don’t need a policy,” said Smith.
He called it a nominal amount of money that might help the group be more viable.
Braun said he wanted to make it “crystal clear” that he agreed with everything Smith said about Canadian veterans. However he said that is not the issue before council. He said all the applicants were worthwhile.
“If we approve this, what do we say to the next group that comes before us and says we also would like this tax exemption? What do we do then? Tell them they’re not worthy? That’s the issue for me,” said Braun.
He said there needs to be a policy on how to decide which group gets a tax exemption.
The ANAF request was defeated 5-4 with Braun and Couns. Dave Loewen, Bill MacGregor, Simon Gibson and Moe Gill voting against.