Terrace council aims to shake up giving policy

New rules could come for grants, tax exemptions and other assistance

COMMUNITY groups used to receiving financial assistance from the city may find themselves out of luck should city council change the way tax exemptions and grants are handled.

Council members are specifically looking at whether groups that bring in their own revenue through various methods should also continue to qualify for city grants and tax exemptions.

The topic was discussed at an Aug. 13 committee of the whole meeting aimed at policy changes later this year. Tax exemption applications need to be made by Aug. 31 and the deadline for a grant application is Oct. 15.

The list of community organizations that qualify for grants remains largely unchanged year to year, and council also examined the merits of a system that favours previous recipients.

“I have some concern about complacency,” said councillor Marylin Davies during the discussion. “We bend over backward to get the information,” she continued, falling short of actually naming community organizations who challenge council with “late and incomplete applications.”

Councillor Stacey Tyers also spoke out on the issue, wondering if the city might be “doing a disservice to those organizations that are just starting” by using previous qualification as the benchmark each year to get on the selection list.

Mayor David Pernarowski said that he wants to see a separate body take care of the application process in the future, most likely the Terrace Community Foundation.

The city has been gradually building up the interest-paying capital base of this foundation since it formed in 2011.

As well, the city’s community forest has also stepped into the grant picture to make contributions from its profits to community groups.

Tyers is also submitting the idea of switching to a participatory budget where the community votes on who gets the money, based on similar systems in Guelph and New York City.

The city will give a total of $500,000 to community organizations this year—fee waivers accounting for $43,000, tax exemptions $357,000, lease values worth $168,000 and sponsored criminal record searches of $35,000.