Despite a quick change in Vancouver’s Charter to facilitate a $458 Million Olympic Village loan, Mayor Gregor Robertson says the city can’t do the same to provide a tax break to the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano. Declining membership and $20K in property taxes are threatening to close Legion Branch 176 named after a legendary World War 1 pilot.
Many other Metro Vancouver Legions already receive a tax break, but the Mayor said it’s not possible for this branch. “Vancouver’s charter doesn’t enable us to give that tax break right now,” Robertson said. But the issue might be more about money and political will than a simple question of changing the rules. “At this point the budget is very, very tight and we’re facing cutbacks right across the board, he said. “It’s a very difficult year to be considering giving people a tax break like that — as great as our Legions are.”
Legions in Burnaby, North Vancouver, New Westminster and Port Moody are exempt from city taxes. But in Vancouver exemptions are only allowed to charities, meaning the Legion technically isn’t eligible because it is a non-charitable, non-profit organization.
Looks like the Billy Bishop will need to come up with the tax money to keep its doors open.