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Whistler council approves tax exemption for new church

New Whistler Community Church building opened in White Gold on Oct. 5.
church brief
The new Whistler Community Church opened in White Gold on Oct. 5.

Whistler council gave first three readings to a permissive tax exemption bylaw related to the new Whistler Community Church building in White Gold on Oct. 5.

The church has owned the land at 7226 Fitzsimmons Rd. North since January 2003, and began construction of its new building (which held its grand opening Oct. 3) last year.

The church—a member of the BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches—wrote to the municipality to request the exemption under the Community Charter. RMOW staff recommended granting a five-year tax exemption for the church, as the approach is consistent with the exemption granted to the Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church in Whistler Cay.

Organizations that currently receive exemptions include the Whistler Waldorf School Society ($15,292 in 2022); the Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies Society (four properties totaling $137,129); Zero Ceiling ($3,540); the Whistler Community Services Society ($4,117) the Whistler Mountain Ski Club ($7,645) the Emerald Dreams Conservation Co and Decigon Development Corp ($2,716—related to the Emerald Forest); the Audain Art Museum ($257,812); the Spo7ez Cultural Centre and Community Society ($71,009); Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church ($20,494); the Whistler Community Church ($1,594) and the Dandelion Day Care Society ($2,304).

The Howe Sound Women’s Centre also recently inquired about an exemption for a newly purchased townhouse in Whistler (to be used to provide affordable housing for families fleeing domestic violence), though a staff report noted “it is not the practice of the RMOW to grant permissive tax exemptions for affordable housing, and to do so would mark a meaningful change in approach with potentially broad implications on the property tax requisition.”

Staff suggested there are better ways to support the HSWC’s request while still ensuring equal treatment for all housing providers, such as the Community Enrichment Program