Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society was denied a tax exemption for low-income units in the former Anchor Inn. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

In Our Opinion: In all fairness

Why the City of Prince Rupert should rethink a tax exemption for a low-income housing project

After being denied a permissive property tax exemption, the folks at Anchor Inn should seriously consider affiliating with a religion because then the city might actually consider cutting the low-income housing project some slack.

Places of worship, seniors housing, schools, cultural and recreational centres all get a break. That includes Annunciation School, which is exempted $36,794, and another $3,754 for its gym, while other properties include $4,982 for Jim Pattison’s Canfisco boat launch, and $1,200 for the Rod and Gun Club.

Mayor Lee Brain said the reason the affordable housing project was denied was in the name of fairness, lumping Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society in with all other residential property owners.

While places of worship and seniors homes are included in the permissive property tax exemption, as well as a few exceptions, low-income housing units are not. BC Housing units, such as the ones being built next to the transition society, and M’akola Housing Society, which manages units for BC Housing, doesn’t receive the tax exemption.

If it’s ultimately an issue of fairness, then why are renters in this region paying more than 50 per cent of their income on housing?

With a busy homeless shelter on Third Avenue West, it’s clear not everyone can afford the average monthly rent, which is now up to $913 for a two bedroom apartment.

READ MORE: Rent continues to rise in Prince Rupert, drops in Terrace

The Northern View has covered the lack of social housing in the city time and again, and in 2016, Mayor Lee Brain said although the city isn’t responsible for housing, he’ll support the construction of more units.

READ MORE: City council tackles the affordable housing shortage

“Our rule is when you want to build, we’ll donate the lot,” he said then.

What he should have added is, and ‘we’ll continue to tax the property.’

A private organization, such as the Indigenous Housing Society, should be encouraged to offer affordable housing in this city. Letting them off $15,250 in property tax exemption would encourage more private groups to take a similar initiative.

Make them the example, not the exception.

READ MORE: Low-income housing denied tax exemption in Prince Rupert

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