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Langley City reviews tax breaks after declining request by food bank

Was one of four groups asking to be added to the tax exemption list
A request for a tax exemption by the Langley Food Bank has prompted a review of the way such requests are handled by Langley City (Langley Advance Times file)

An unsuccessful application for a permissive tax exemption by the Langley Food Bank has led to a review of the way such requests are decided in Langley City.

After an attempt to grant the non-profit agency a break on municipal taxes failed by a four-to-three margin on Oct. 7, council asked staff to look into updating policies and procedures governing the approval process.

When the matter came back to council for a final vote on Monday, Oct. 19, Councillor Rudy Storteboom, who has tried more than once to get the food bank a tax exemption, described himself as “disappointed” with the outcome.

“I hope that council will come to appreciate the food bank,” Storteboom remarked.

“I look forward to seeing action on this file, not just words.”

Coun. Paul Albrecht said the hope is to find a “more fair and equitable formula” to handle such requests in the future.

“This is not a matter of supporting one or another,” Albrecht added.

Coun. Gayle Martin said in response to Storteboom that all members of council appreciate the food bank, but the City needs to look at a “fairer” way of distributing tax breaks.

READ ALSO: No tax exemption for Langley City’s Food Bank

Council approved tax exemptions on 18 properties, including the Langley Hospice Society, Outdoor Langley Lawn Bowling Club and Langley Community Music school, amounting to $168,000 in forgiven taxes.

Applications by four new groups to be added to the list, including the food bank, would have meant more than $108,000 less in taxes, according to a staff report.

The four were not added to the current list of exemptions after a staff report recommended against it, “considering the current pressures on the financial resources of the City.”

READ ALSO: Langley Food Bank says more than 50 new families have joined since COVID-19 pandemic began

Other groups who applied to be added were the Freemasons temple, Penny Pinchers thrift store, and the Inclusion Langley Society.

In January, the Freemasons warned that they might have to sell their the 93-year-old building at at 20701 Fraser Hwy. without an exemption because their tax assessment has doubled.

Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary has made multiple applications to the City to give the Penny Pinchers store an exemption, arguing that other B.C. communities, such as White Rock and Delta in the Lower Mainland, and Chemanius on Vancouver Island, have been granted tax exemptions for hospital thrift stores.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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