The Town of Ladysmith and Royal Canadian Legion Branch #171 Ladysmith are currently looking at a taxing situation.
The Legion has historically been exempt from paying property taxes, however, as pointed out in a council package, part of the Legion, the bar, is zoned commercial and should not be given an exemption.
Section 25 of the municipal charter says the town must not provide a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business.
Erin Anderson, director of finance, said there is no set, across-the-board solution to the issue as some municipalities choose to grant full exemption and others don’t. However, if a full exemption is granted to the Legion and the bylaw is challenged, it puts of all the organizations listed in the bylaw at risk of not getting the exemption.
Mayor Rob Hutchins and Coun. Steve Arnett removed themselves from the table as members of the Legion, leaving acting mayor Jill Dashwood and councillors Duck Paterson and Lori Evans to talk about the issue. Paterson noted it is a hard issue to deal with and council will look to help the Legion in any way possible, including a grant.
“I would like to see us be able to do it, we just have to be able to find a way to make it work,” said Paterson, adding the Legion may have to ask for a reclassification.
The first three reading have been given to the bylaw and council was due to either pass the bylaw as is, or with changes, at the October 17 meeting. Please pick up next week’s Chronicle for more about the bylaw.
The Legion said it does not want to comment until there is an outcome.
In all, 19 organizations will be receiving the permissive tax status, amounting to $54,629 in municipal taxes forgone. Organizations receiving the status include, all five Ladysmith churches, seniors’ housing society, historical society archives and museum, Alcoholics Anonymous, maritime society, golf club, Festival of Lights Society, arts council and health care auxiliary.
The town is also looking at a 10-year permissive tax exemption bylaw on land being used by the Island Corridor Foundation within the Town of Ladysmith, to help get passenger train service back on track on Vancouver Island. That amounts to $13,174.