Legion’s request moves forward

The legion had asked the village for a tax exemption 

Burns Lake council has decided to include the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 50’s property to the list of properties eligible for consideration of tax exemption in 2018.

Every year in September or October, council is presented with a permissive tax exemption bylaw for approval. This bylaw includes a listing of eligible properties that can be exempted from property taxes.

Members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 50 had approached village council on Feb. 21, 2017 asking to have property taxes exempted from their branch.

“We have found it difficult to continue to support the community with this tax burden,” said Laurel Derksen, the legion’s secretary, during a presentation to village council.

Derksen said the legion was “well overdue” for a tax exempt status as the Burns Lake branch has existed as a non-profit organization since the inception of the legion system following World War II.

“Legions throughout Canada have been forced to close their doors because the taxes have become too much, and Burns Lake relies on us to provide entertainment, donations, a place to hold memorial services and Remembrance Day.”

This is not the first time that the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 50 has made this request. Village council denied a previous request by the legion based on the fact that the organization is not registered as a society and runs a business out of their building.

Derksen said that serving alcohol is not a profit making activity.

“The only paid position is the legion’s bartender, who is not a legion member,” she explained. “All income that the legion generates goes directly back into the building or placed in the accounts required by the legion like the poppy fund, which is used to assist veterans.”

Village staff said the legion could be eligible for tax exemption if it is considered to be a not for profit organization. The permissive tax exemption bylaw must be adopted by village council and sent to B.C. Assessment by Oct. 31 so that the properties can be exempted from taxes the following year.

The general portion of taxes that would reduce the village’s tax revenues is $1468 per year. A permissive tax exemption does not exempt water, sewer and garbage fees or frontage taxes.

The village currently gives tax exemptions to 17 properties, including churches, the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre, the Thrift Store, the Burns Lake Public Library, the Burns Lake Playschool and to properties used by the Lakes District Film Society.