City cites Charter for denying tax break to Legion
Despite a quick change in Vancouver's Charter to facilitate a $458 Olympic Village loan, Mayor Gregor Robertson says the city can't do the same to provide a tax break to a struggling gathering place for war veterans.
Declining membership and $20,000 in property taxes are threatening to close the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano, a special space named after a legendary World War 1 pilot.
"Without a significant increase in revenue from our members and from tax relief inform the city it's gonna look pretty dim down the road," past president Rob Dodsworth said.
Many other Metro Vancouver Legions already receive a tax break, but Robertson said it's not possible for this branch.
"Vancouver's charter doesn't enable us to give that tax break right now," Robertson said.
But the issue might be more about money and political will than a simple question of changing the rules.
"At this point the budget is very, very tight and we're facing cutbacks right across the board, he said.
"It's a very difficult year to be considering giving people a tax break like that -- as great as our Legions are."
Legions in Burnaby, North Vancouver, New Westminster and Port Moody are exempt from city taxes. But in Vancouver exemptions are only allowed to charities, meaning the Legion technically isn't eligible because it is a non-charitable, non-profit organization.
This means the Billy Bishop will need to come up with another $20,000 in tax money. Rob Dodsworth doesn't know if it's possible.
"We're trying to make it month by month by month," he said.
Longtime member and World War 2 veteran Bert Merrett said he's worried the Legion might close.
"What else can they do if they can't pay their taxes?"
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson