Re: 'Church grant controversy still simmering,' Daily News, August 21, 2013 This controversy deserves further examination as several important questions are involved.
The immediate question being the wisdom of giving public money to persons or organizations capable of providing for themselves. Some of the money being given has been taken from those who are having great difficulty providing for themselves and their families.
Councillor Brennan's note that City Heritage grants do not, and should not, involve the topic of 'need' is offensive to common sense: another case of socialism for the well-to-do, and capitalism for the poor.
A secondary question, independent of the first, is the nature of church exemptions. A building for the purpose of public worship is exempt by legislation, as is the land that the building immediately sits upon. Council has no control over this question.
At issue, however, is the matter of the rest of the land which may be held by a church for parking, for a garden, for a parsonage, etc., of for future use, i.e. for speculation. This land is taxable but, with some limits, has been given permissive tax exemptions by our council, i.e. has been given donations from the public purse since taxes not collected here must be collected from everyone else.
During an examination of the assessment record for the building at 91 Chapel Street following the collapse of its roof and the subsequent undertaking by the city and its taxpayers to demolish the building as the owners refused to do so, it was noted that this property carried an annual exemption of $423,000 on the land plus a $10,000 exemption on a structure (the place of public worship?).
The structure was only valued at $10,000 and, to the best of my knowledge, has not been in use as a church for a number of years: and no wonder given its state. Further questions to the city and to BC Assessment have led me to believe that there is no oversight on the use of places of public worship once they have been granted this status.
What is the amount of money which general ratepayers must provide to make up for council's generosity in providing exemptions of all types, and can we continue to afford it?
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