Property tax exemptions sparks debate
By Nowell Berg
On October 28, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Roadway incidents continue to keep RCMP occupied
Kimberley RCMP Detachment Sgt. Chris Newel presented a third quarter (July to September) report on RCMP activities.
During that time, Newel indicated Kimberley RCMP conducted 39 road checks where they made “130 traffic contacts.” Twenty impaired drives were tagged and purged from the roads.
The detachment handled “610 calls for service” which was 90 calls more than during summer months, and 227 more calls than winter (January to March, 2019).
Traffic incidents and suspension continues to be the largest category at 123 calls during Q3. The next three top calls include offenses against property (35), abandoned 911 calls (32) and assist fire and ambulance (31).
Once again, Newel indicated the detachment gets many calls regarding speeding on roadways and running stop signs. “Traffic complaints we get a lot of. We really struggle with those people who want [us] to watch their stop sign because people run it. Very, very difficult to manage all that,” he said.
Mayor McCormick asked what motorists should do after a vehicle collision blocks a roadway. “If the cars are movable, is it advisable for people to get out of the way?” he asked.
Newel responded, “We like to see it [the accident scene], then we’ll move it [the vehicles] as quickly as possible.” He added that the circumstances of the accident scene play a part as well. If there is a criminal code offence, if someone is injured, if the combined damages are over $10,000, or the vehicles are blocking traffic, then RCMP will attend the scene.
Purcell International Education seeks OCP amendment
Purcell International Education (PIE) has requested city council amend the Official Community Plan (OCP) in order “to allow for the future planning and development of an international boarding school campus.”
While it is still PIE’s intent to eventually purchase some of the Kimberley Golf Course land, the first phase to the development will now include land previously zoned by council for a seniors’ housing complex. This five-acres of land is situated south of Highway 95A between Mark Creek and the Kimberley Golf Course.
Coun. Oakley asked about the phase one land and if it would still be used for seniors’ housing. He added city staff have spent considerable time on the project. “My concern with this is we spent a lot of time going through the process. There was a lot of stress on the neighbours who live there. I don’t support this. I’m going to vote against it.”
The current owner of the phase one land, Mr. Salgato, told council that obtaining financial investors and Interior Health support for senior care was not going to happen. He is now working with PIE to use his land for the school campus.
“Its a beautiful site; fully serviced and shovel ready,” Salgato said. He added that PIE’s use of the land would speed up the project by several years.
Property Tax exemptions sparks debate
Chief financial officer Jim Hendricks informed council that the Permissive Tax Exemption would give “places of worship and the Kimberley Independent School an exemption for 10 years. Other non-profit organizations would receive an exemption for four years.”
He went on to say the total value of exemptions would be “$340,000 per year.”
Council voted in favour of the Permissive Tax Exemption and a class 8 recreational property tax exemption for the Kimberley Golf Club. Hendricks indicated the exemption value is $14,368 and would only be in effect for one year (2020). If the golf course lands are sold, i.e. to PIE, or the land use is changed, then the tax exemption is void and the tax would be payable.
The third exemption council dealt with concerns the Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw that would see the SunMine lands receive an exemption for five-years. Hendricks pointed out the exemption is valued at $65,000 per year.
Coun. Dalum said, “I think it’s important for everybody to know this bylaw allows us to not penalize Teck for allowing us to use their land.”
Coun. Oakley was the only one voting against this exemption. He pointed out that the tax exemptions, not only for the golf course but SunMine/Teck as well, amount to “point eight of one percent” of total property taxes. “People wonder why their taxes are going up. I’m going to vote against this as well. I think this is a slippery slope.”
Coun. McBain abstained from voting on the Revitalization Tax Exemption because he does consulting work for Teck.
As the owner of SunMine, the city does not collect property taxes on that land. As such, the exemption would “result in no incremental change to the level of taxation revenue currently anticipated,” said Hendricks.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m.; open to the public.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be November 12 at City Hall.