Good news for 57 Victoria churches including Christ Church Cathedral! The City of Victoria has renewed the permissive tax exemption for an estimated tax saving of $3.2 million over the next three years (2020-2022).
For the cathedral, the move saves close to $300,000 (over three years) in taxes that we don’t have to add to the budget. Church buildings are already statutorily exempt under BC’s Local Government Act. But under the Community Charter for municipalities, groups such as churches can apply for permissive tax exemption on the surrounding property.
Victoria council clearly recognizes the contribution of institutions such as the cathedral. But giving churches a break is not always automatic. Municipalities can also layer their own policies on the law. For example, media reported in May 2019, that Saanich council asked staff to review current permissive tax exemption rules and compare them to a possible public benefits test for organizations including churches. That came after a local church hosted a controversial speaker.
Maintaining our own high standards for liturgy, outreach and the arts in the community is our traditional way of giving back. In a recent Times Colonist essay, Lyndon Sayers, a Lutheran co-pastor, wrote, “It is good for us to begin thinking about the ways in which as church we can hold ourselves accountable by higher standards of transparency, overt inclusion, and healing through spiritual practices. Doing so benefits both the church and wider community.”