Community Baptist Church loses property tax exemption

Clearwater Baptist Church and the nearby bible camp have new owners – Liquid Lifestyles whitewater rafting and kayaking

Clearwater Community Baptist Church (l) and the former Clearwater Bible Camp behind it were recently sold to Liquid Lifestyles. Whether the property should continue to receive the 60 per cent property tax exemption it has been receiving was a topic of debate during a recent town council meeting.

Clearwater Baptist Church and the nearby bible camp have new owners – Liquid Lifestyles whitewater rafting and kayaking.

The property was formerly owned by Evangelical Free Church of Canada and received a 60 per cent property tax exemption from District of Clearwater.

During its Oct. 4 meeting, town council decided that the property tax exemption should end, at least until the situation is clarified.

“The Clearwater Baptist Church would like to stay and we are keen to have them continue to use the church for their religious gatherings,” said Scott Streadwick, owner of Liquid Lifestyles in a letter to the District.

However, he said that he and the church are reviewing the lease for the next calendar year.

Historically, the church paid $400 per month for the use of the building.

Streadwick noted that if the taxes increase then the lease payments would also have to increase to compensate.

According to a report to council from chief administrative officer Leslie Groulx, it is possible to grant a permissive tax exemption to a property that has a religious organization as a tenant.

However, staff is still seeking confirmation of tenancy and the terms of the agreement, she said.

A motion to amend the tax exemption bylaw received three readings. A final reading likely will take place during the town council meeting on Oct. 18.

Groulx said the amendment needed to be passed this month in order to meet an Oct. 31 deadline for submission to the B.C. government and BC Assessment.

The property owner could re-apply for the exemption in 2017.

The municipal tax payable for the property without the permissive tax exemption would be about $2,070.

With the exemption, the taxes would be about $830.

Mayor John Harwood and councillor Barry Banford, both of whom are members of the Baptist congregation, left the room during the discussion.

 

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