Kamloops council has approved a partial property tax break for the Kamloops Curling Club.
According to the city, council policy states that applications will not be considered for organizations that conduct retail operations or provide direct or indirect support to an independent business on commercial property that competes with privately owned facilities and or provides liquor and/or meal services as its primary function.
The curling club had its property tax exemption revoked last year and general manager Rob Nordin appeared before council on Tuesday (Sept. 20), requesting a partial exemption, which would exclude the curling club’s pro shop, concession, catering and lounge.
Nordin told council he understood it could be perceived that the club receives an unfair competitive advantage. However, he added, food and liquor served at the club is primarily for members and supports the club. He said $29,000 the club paid last year in property taxes was “exorbitant.” (The city portion of the bill is estimated to be about $21,000.) Nordin said the club receives no grants from the municipality.
“Since our direct competition, which is McArthur Island Curling Club — which is heavily funded by the city and does not pay property taxes and provides the exact same service — we believe that we should be exempt on property taxes on that part [recreational component] of the building,” Nordin said.
Coun. Kathy Sinclair said services the Kamloops Curling Club provides are a benefit to the community. She said it provides active sports and recreation and should receive the partial exemption. “The fact that they have a revenue stream to help sustain them should not be counted against them,” Sinclair said. “To me, this is a logical conclusion on supporting a non-profit curling club downtown.”
Coun. Arjun Singh questioned whether other sports groups may come forward and ask for exemptions, but staff could not think of another example.
The Desert Gardens Seniors Community Centre downtown is not a sports-related facility, but it has a liquor license and was granted a permissive tax exemption.
Coun. Mike O’Reilly said partial tax exemptions have been provided in the past. He pointed to the BC Wildlife Park.
“There is a process for this,” O’Reilly said. “This isn’t something we just came up with and it is something that is widely accepted across the province.”
Council voted unanimously in favour of the partial exemption. BC Assessment will now assess the club to determine what portions of the building will be exempt.
Speaking with KTW, Nordin lauded council’s decision.
“We’re happy that the city understands that we have struggles,” he said. “And that we contribute to the community with providing a recreation facility and we try to do it with no cost to the city. In fact, now we’re paying taxes and contributing to the overall tax base of the city.”
City council was also asked to review a number of permissive tax exemptions for non-profit societies in the city. Also to be granted property tax exemptions: A Way Home Kamloops, Big Brothers and Sisters of Central and Southern Interior of BC, Kamloops Shotgun Sports Society and Oncore Seniors Society. The Big Little Science Centre Society will receive a grant in lieu because it does not own its downtown building. The city is expected to provide about $1.14 million in property tax exemptions for places of worship and non-profit societies in 2023.