Pemberton voters will be deciding the tax fates of three local non-profits this Saturday.
The Lions Activity Society, the society that operates the Pemberton Lions, the Pemberton Legion and the Pemberton Valley Golf and Country Club are seeking exemptions from municipal taxes. When the requests were brought before council this September, Councillor Mark Blundell suggested that all three requests be taken to referendum in November.
Those eligible to vote in the Village of Pemberton will be receiving individual ballots asking each of the following "yes" or "no" questions:
Are you in favour of Council considering providing for a permissive tax exemption for the Pemberton Valley Golf and Country Club for a maximum of five (5) years at an estimated tax forgiveness of $178,000?
Are you in favour of Council considering providing for a permissive tax exemption for the Pemberton Legion for a maximum of five (5) years at an estimated tax forgiveness of $58,000?
Are you in favour of Council considering providing for a permissive tax exemption for the Pemberton Lions Society for a maximum of five (5) years at an estimated tax forgiveness of $36,500?
Permissive tax exemption is provided for under Division 7, Section 224 of the Community Charter. The results of these questions would be non-binding as the council would have to consider a tax exemption bylaw. The soonest the exemption could come into affect would be the 2007 tax year.
Myron Ayres is current president of the Pemberton chapter of the Lions and sits on the board of the Lions Activity Society.
"This is our only seniors' housing in the community," said Ayres.
Built as a Pemberton Centennial project in 1985, the 20-year-old building is now showing signs of age.
"There are huge demands on upkeep," says Ayres. "Because of the age of the facility we have some air quality problems that need to be addressed."
Ayres also points out that given the Villas residents health considerations "you cant just not replace an air conditioner" when it goes.
The eight, one-bedroom rental units represent the only Sea to Sky corridor seniors housing north of Squamish. Income-reflective housing costs make it uniquely affordable to area seniors. The annual tax exemption being sought by the Lions Activity Society is $6,100.
Operating from an aging building is also a concern for Royal Canadian Legion president Bruce Carson.
"The building had its grand opening in 1967," said Carson. "So maintenance is getting very costly."
The legion president worries that the cost of keeping the building going could have a negative impact on the organization's charitable work. Currently, through the project-specific Poppy Fund, which provides for such things as post-secondary education bursaries, and the meat draw, Carson estimates the organization contributes more than $9,000 to the community annually through sponsorship of programs such as the Signal Hill Lunch Program.