Morinville Town Council Champions Tax Exemption for Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation’s Second-Stage Housing Initiative

by Colin Smith

Morinville town council is showing its support for efforts to aid the victims of domestic violence.

At its regular meeting Tuesday council directed administration to bring forward a bylaw that would exempt a new facility operated by the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation from property tax.

The foundation has applied for a tax exemption for recently acquired property, known as Eileen’s House. It will provide second-stage housing for people who have “graduated” from the need for the services available at Jesse’s House.

This will be affordable housing, with the clients required to pay some rent.
As a result, unlike Jesse’s House this property is not automatically exempt from tax under the Municipal Government Act and an associated regulation.

According to the regulation, to be tax exempt the property cannot be for the use one person or a small number of people and include payment of rent or other fees to the organization for its exclusive use, as the renters would be doing.

“In order to receive an exemption the property has to be open and accessible to the general public,” said Travis Nosko. “Because this property is only accessible to the individuals who are renting the property it is not generally available to the public.”

However, council has the ability to exempt any property owned by a registered non-profit organization from taxes.

“Second stage housing is very important in our community,” said Mayor Simon Boersma. “We do not want people from first stage housing going back to their abusers.”

Councillor Ray White proposed a motion that the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation’s request for a tax exemption be accepted and that Non-Profit Organization Property Tax Exemption Bylaw be brought back to council with the new foundation property added to Schedule A for approval.

“I think we have to recognize the importance of Jesse’s House and Eileen’s House,” he said. “If we are supporting the organization I think we need to do this.”

The change would make about $575,000 in residential property assessment tax-exempt, which would amount to about $4,800 in annual property tax revenue.

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