The proprietor of a Terrace soup kitchen says an outpouring of generosity has staved off any immediate fears of seeing the facility shut down this year.
Delphine Dame, who runs the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen out of the All Nation’s Centre with her husband Ron Dame, has witnessed a “groundswell of community support” since early December when news spread that an overdue tax bill of nearly $4,000 could potentially shut the centre down.
“A lot of people have put their money where their mouth is,” Delphine said. “We were in a [$5,000] hole to start with when the tax issue came up, but donations have taken us out of that, in addition to the $4,000 tax hole.”
That $9.000 was found through Ron’s annual cycle of fundraising and concerned citizens writing cheques from just a few dollars to an even $100. The Seventh Day Adventists Church, with whom the centre is affiliated, donated funds, as did the Dames themselves out of their personal bank account. But a significant contribution came from a business association luncheon, when the topic was raised during speeches, “and everyone just started opening their chequebooks,” Delphine said.
Last September Terrace City Council voted down a full permissive tax exemption for the ANC because the centre rented out space to the Terrace and District Community Services Society, who ran their own outreach programs on weekdays. The city viewed the $500 rent as profit, and therefore diluted the centre’s standing as a non-profit organization. Council instead granted ANC a 29 per cent exemption for the two days per week they operated the soup kitchen. But that figure was far less than the 100 per cent statutory tax exemption previously granted by the province. BC Assessment withdrew it when they learned the centre, registered as a church, was not offering the minimum number of required hours of worship service.
The ANC plans to launch an appeal against BC Assessment’s decision this year. The Dames will also need apply for a full permissive tax exemption from city hall for the 2017 tax year.
“One of the city’s arguments—and it is a valid argument—is that everytime someone gets a tax exemption, someone else has to pay it. There’s some validity to that. But I think that the community has shown overwhelmingly that they’re willing to pick up that extra cookie,” she said, referring the estimated cost-equivalent to each tax payer.
In December TDCSS Executive Director Michael McFetridge said the society will cease renting space at the ANC. This week McFetridge confirmed the society is currently renovating a new location for all the services currently run out of the centre.
“It’s all part of our executive PLAN. We’ll do everything we can to make sure our exit from the [ANC] is as painless as possible for Ron and Delphine. But at the end of the day we’ll have a phenomenal, food-safe kitchen to serve people from.”