The Royal Canadian Legion could be one of many charities getting tax relief in Vancouver
Are you a charitable organization in Vancouver and desperately looking for a tax break? You’re in luck. The Province of BC has just introduced amendments to the Vancouver Charter (the legislation governing Vancouver) which will soon give council the authority to give tax relief to charities operating in the city.
One of the first charitable organizations seeking tax relief will likely be the Royal Canadian Legion. They have been pleading with the Vision Vancouver dominated council for months to provide them with the tax relief they need to help keep several of their locations operational. To date, the response they’ve received from Mayor Gregor Robertson has been a shrug of the shoulders and a pointing of the finger. Last fall Robertson told the media his hands were tied and that's why he asked the Province to give him the legislative power needed to permit him to give charities a tax break. Well...when this legislation passes in a few weeks, his wish will be granted.
Rest assured, it won’t just be the Legion lining up to ask for tax relief. There are countless other organizations that perform thankless tasks which help to make Vancouver the wonderful city it is. It won’t be long before other organizations dedicated to saving stranded pets, people and perhaps even backyard chickens become aware of this change in legislation. This is the conundrum facing council.
As they say, be careful what you ask for. Last fall when Gregor Robertson pointed the finger at the Province, he probably never thought Victoria would move so swiftly. But now that they have, Robertson better be prepared take a hit to city coffers. That is unless he uncharacteristically begins saying no to a lot more folks than he has in the past.
As the Vancouver Charter is currently written, it prevents council from providing tailored tax relief to specific charities. Once the legislation is given royal assent by the Lieutenant Governor in a couple of months, the city will no longer have these restrictions placed upon it. I suspect city staff are scrambling right now to develop “guidelines” and a “policy protocol” regarding who should and should not be eligible.
Of interest to me will be how long it will take Vision Councillor Raymond Louie to introduce a motion asking for immediate tax relief for the Legion. If you recall, it was Louie that dined out on the issue of how “evil” the previous NPA administration was for not supporting our local veterans. Now that he’s in government and in charge of the City’s finances, it’s only fitting that he should be the one to introduce the motion calling for tax relief. Don’t count on it.
For some reason I don’t think Louie will bring forward any tax relief motions in the foreseeable future. Some of the brighter members of his caucus likely realize that opening up the door to one organization (as charitable as they might be) will cause a flood of applications from other groups. Then council will be put in the untenable position of watching the evening newscast each night as one group after another claims they’ve been mistreated by this heartless and penny pinching council. This is not something a group of risk-averse Vision Vancouver politicians will want as we begin our turbulence-ridden descent into the next civic election.
I must say it was quite “charitable” of the Province to move quickly on the Mayor’s request to give him the power he needs to provide tax relief. But as the Mayor will soon find out, charity truly does begin at home. What do you think? Should the City of Vancouver be providing tax breaks for needy charities who help to support so many needy causes? Let us know by leaving a message.
- Post by Daniel