District council has chosen to avoid setting a precedent by not reimbursing the Eagle Valley Senior Citizens Housing Society for expenses related to the recent boil water notice.
In a letter to the district, society administrator Kaija Isherwood asks that council consider reimbursing the society for the cost of a potable water tank totalling $1,823,40, with a “further cost of $220 for water fill up every second day.”
The boil notice was issued June 13 and lifted July 16.
The housing society houses 50 tenants and feeds 24 of them daily, as well as the approximately 14 people who use the community’s Meals to Wheels program.
Isherwood notes how the district provided a tax reduction for local businesses that have invested in a filtration system to provide potable water during times of boil water notices.
“As the society qualifies for a total tax exemption as ‘seniors housing,’ this does not pertain to the society; however, we hope that something comparable can be arranged for payment of these expenses.
In response, council expressed concern over how supporting the request might “open a can of worms.” (Couns. Fred Busch and Charlotte Hutchinson excused themselves as they are members of the housing society board.)
Coun. Suzanne Carpenter said she couldn’t support the society’s request without providing some sort of tax exemption for seniors living at home.
“I have three neighbours and they’re all on fixed incomes. This water situation is causing them grief as well,” said Carpenter.
Regarding the tax exemptions for business, Coun. Don Richardson said they are to enhance business and the local economy.
“If we’re going to start giving exemptions to everybody, we’re going to be in dire straights,” said Richardson, adding he would still support the housing society’s request as a one-off.
Coun. Terry Rysz agreed with Richardson, suggesting it be done through a district grant-in-aid.
Coun. Joan Thomson and Mayor Darrell Trouton shared Rysz’s position.
“We put out a tax exemption on this for the businesses in a very tough time, and if we’re going to start opening it to citizens, whether they’re seniors living in the centre, or they’re seniors living at home, or whether it’s people having tough times for whatever reason, it’s opening this up into a can of worms,” said Trouton. “It’s important we treat everybody evenly and equally, so I have a hard time supporting it as is.
“I think if they wish to come back at grant in aid time… We’ve always put that into consideration and will continue to do that. But as it stands, just as a request, at this point in time I have a hard time supporting it…”
The request was filed as information to council.