The BC Catholic Paper
A Langley city council motion to start collecting property tax fails after residents speak outBy Agnieszka Krawczynsk
A motion to make churches and charities in Langley City pay property tax has been quashed.
City council chambers had standing room only Nov. 23 as churchgoers, volunteers, and community members voiced concerns about ending property tax exemptions.
"We would likely have had to close," the Rev. Paula Porter Leggett of St. Andrew's Anglican Church told The B.C. Catholic the next day.
To stay open and afford the tax, the small church would have had to cut back its services to the community. "We would have had to make choices between the four services we do a month in care homes or being involved in organizing things to attract new members."
Leggett was one of many speakers representing 20 charities and churches that felt it would be unfair for the city to start collecting property tax.
City council first decided to prepare a strategy to reduce or eliminate property tax exemptions at a meeting Sept. 28.
A Nov. 12 report by Darrin Leite, director of corporate services, listed a series of suggestions, such as reducing the tax exemption for churches and some non-profits by 5 per cent each year for five years, then reassessing.
The city accepted written and verbal input before the motion came up again Nov. 23. After hearing more than an hour of testimonies against the proposal, councillor Rudy Storteboom moved the motion "for discussion." No one seconded it, and it died before coming to a vote.
(I)n a letter to interested parties in the (Anglican) diocese, Rob Dickson reinforced why it was important that he and Francis Wong (Director of Finance, Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver) were present at the meeting and their voices heard: “This is not an action that was only for the City of Langley. If this motion had passed in Langley November 23, there would have been a roll out of this action across BC municipalities. The NFP (not-for-profit) sector must continue to be vigilant and we must alert all our various constituents and work together to ensure that churches, NFPs, compassionate service organizations are not taxed by the local, provincial or federal governments for the very good reason that they provide community services not provided by others and at no charge.”—Randy Murray, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.