At its April 27 meeting, Courtenay council opted to not remit grant-in-aid payments this year, and to keep the money available as emergency funds for organizations that support those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
The City received 19 applications this year. Requests varied from $950 to $7,500.
“It’s a tough decision. There’s a lot of very worthy community groups that we’ve been fortunate to be able to support through this program for a number of years,” Coun. Melanie McCollum said. “To not be able to hand them some financial support right now is a tough one to mull over.”
Couns. Doug Hillian and Wendy Morin excused themselves from the discussion due to conflicts of interest.
•Council agreed to follow the efforts of Saanich council to request the B.C. government to reinstate the Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program.
The program, initially announced in 2008 by former premier Gordon Campbell, allowed eligible homeowners facing financial hardship due to the economic conditions of the time to defer property tax payments for the following two years. There was no requirement to repay deferred taxes until homes were sold or transferred.
“I thinks it’s worth endorsing this sentiment to the province,” Coun. David Frisch said. “Expanding this program a bit might be what’s needed to help those few people who do need it.”
Mayor Bob Wells noted about 70 per cent of residential properties are already captured within the existing program, but 30 per cent are “falling through the cracks.
“That’s a pretty big number,” he said. “That’s why I think it makes sense for us to move forward and write a letter to make sure that voice is heard loud and clear at the provincial level, and to make sure that we’re looking out for everybody.”
•Council approved the 2021/22 RCMP contract expenditure cap of $6,375,449, of which Courtenay is responsible for $5,737,904. The Comox Valley RCMP is a combined provincial/municipal detachment. Of its 64 members, 21 are funded by the Province, 31.4 are funded by Courtenay, and 11.6 are funded by Comox.