Loss of full tax exemption devastates soup kitchen

Dear Editor:

The volunteers of the All Nations Centre and the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen were devastated to receive the news that the City of Terrace has denied our request for the full tax exemption that has been granted in previous years (Sept. 28 edition, Council denies tax exemptions on two non-profits).

The Bread of Life Soup Kitchen has provided a weekly meal and additional food distribution free to everyone in Terrace who has patronized it, for the past 21 years. We operate 100 per cent by volunteer staffing.

In 2016, monies received from all sources was approximately $23,450. Of this amount, $7,000 was received from Terrace and District Community Services for The Living Room drop-in centre and Ksan House Society for their damp shelter. (Ksan has since moved to their own facility.) The balance of $16,450 was raised by generous donations from the people and businesses of Terrace.

City council has decided that the money we received from these two other non-profit groups, which only partially offsets the cost of keeping the building open the additional time for them to operate their social services programs, constitutes a business operation on our part. They have levied our taxes accordingly.

The Bread of Life Soup Kitchen does not charge for their soup or food distribution. TDCSS does not charge their patrons for the food or clothing they receive in The Living Room. Ksan House Society did not charge their patrons for use of the damp shelter. There is no charge to anyone who comes to us for a warm, safe, welcoming place to spend time.

We provide all these services for free, fundraise in order to cover the costs of supplies and operation, and now we are being required to fundraise an additional $3,500-plus for taxes so that we can continue to provide these free services. Something is very wrong with this picture!

In 2016 there were an estimated 6,076 hours of volunteer time and including the gifts in kind of soup ingredients, snow removal, waste pick up, vehicle use, and food, this came to a combined value of $389,493. (These figures are solely for the All Nations Centre and the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen, and exclude the hours and value of services provided by TDCSS and Ksan House Society.) This is phenomenal community support! We want the City council of Terrace to stand behind us and support us too.

We asked City council to reconsider, but were told their decision on our tax assessment was final.

With winter coming on, what will it be like for all the patrons who utilize our combined services, if we have to close our doors and they have no place to spend their days except to return to the city streets because we can’t meet the challenge of fundraising an additional 15 to 20 per cent every year to cover our tax bill?

Sincerely,

Linda Wilson

Treasurer, All Nations Centre and Bread of Life Soup Kitchen

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