If this goes through we will lose the camp we have used since the 20's or earlier!!!! There is no way we can sell all those extra cookies and think of all the girls who will miss out!
This is the only camp in the province where they will be forcing a non profit agency to pay tax on the land. Please send off a letter ASAP...before the vote on friday if you can!!!
3 October 2009
Dear Guiders and Friends of Guiding,
As some of you have heard we were blindsided by the District of Sechelt Council when we discovered through a friend of Guiding that we were losing a huge part of our tax exemption. Twelve years ago the municipal boundaries were changed and Camp Olave became part of the District of Sechelt - prior to that we were in the Sunshine Coast Regional District. Since then we have applied for and been granted a permissive tax exemption. This year without notice to us this tax exemption has been changed so that a percentage of our property will be taxed. The final vote will be taken on October 30. The southerly portion of the property – the portion outside of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is included in the exemption. This is the land along the waterfront where most of the buildings are located. The remaining land is excluded from the exemption. The exact amount being levied against us is unclear. It is in the range of $85,000 to $137,000. At $1.25 profit per box of cookies we would have to sell 68,000 to 110,000 boxes of cookies to cover this invoice.
On October 21 eleven members of the Camp Olave Management Committee (COMC) and one Guider from Lions Area, along with several friends of Guiding attended the Sechelt Council meeting. We were unable to make a presentation to the Council as a week’s notice is required and we only heard 5 days prior. The meeting began and ended with question and answer sessions, however none of the questions were answered! We were told that the answers will be available at a later date, or perhaps attached to the minutes. For further information and copies of the minutes visit www.sechelt.ca.
How can you help? Send a letter or e-mail to Mayor Darren Inkster, Mayor of the District of Sechelt. The councillors are Warren Allan, Alice Janisch, Ann Kershaw, Alice Lutes, Fred Taylor and Keith Thirkell. The address is District of Sechelt, 2nd floor, 5797 Cowrie Street, P.O. Box 1229, Sechelt, B.C. V0N 3A0. The email is email@example.com. Their fax number is 1-604-885-7591. Continue to send your comments even after the October 30 vote.
We are not the only charity to be earmarked for taxes from the Sechelt council. It has been recommended that the following organizations be given a year’s notice that their tax exemption will be reduced by 50% in 2011. They are Davis Bay/Wilson Creek Community Association, Royal Canadian Legion, Sunshine Coast Army Cadets Support Association, Sunshine Coast Salmonoid Enhancement Society, Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue, Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden Society, Suncoast R.A.A. Canada Chapter #580, Elphinstone Aero Club and the Sunshine Coast Rod and Gun Club. Even though we are listed in the same category as these organizations, we were not given a years notice. At the Council meeting the question was asked if they would re-consider and defeat the bylaw reading and grant Camp Olave the total tax exemption for 2010 so that we would have the same status as the above mentioned associations. That would give us a year to review our status. As I mentioned earlier in the letter, answers were not forthcoming so there was no response to this question. Please note that Camp Byng, Camp Douglas, and other Sunshine Coast camps are not in the Sechelt Municipal District.
In the long term the COMC plans to work with other charitable organizations who have camps throughout the province. We have already heard from several of these groups. They are very concerned because if Sechelt is successful and sets this precedent, then other municipalities and cities could go ahead and tax their properties. Our plan is to lobby Victoria for provincial tax exemption legislation for non-profit organizations. This is the case in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. With this in mind, please send your comments to Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier, Honourable Colin Hansen, Finance Minister, and to your own MLA. Nicholas Simons MLA for the Sunshine Coast has given us his support. Send your letter to PO Box 9048, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC, V8W 9E2.
When composing your letters keep in mind the following:
- The property has been in our possession for 82 years, since 1927
- We have provided a safe, secure place for girls and women to come and experience outdoor camping which is only a plus for society and the girls.
- We lend our camp to Cops for Cancer
- Local groups use our camp – quilters, districts and units
- We employ local trades people and contractors
- We shop for food and supplies at local businesses
- Guiding families spend their vacations on the Sunshine Coast. Many Guiders retire on the Sunshine Coast due to their involvement with the camp.
- Camping groups donate regularly to the local Women’s’ Transition House and the local food bank
- Guiders already pay school and municipal taxes for our primary residences
- The camp is open all year round
- We have offered the camp free of charge to the local schools for day use
- We operate on a budget of $225,000 annually. Our income is from assessment ($20 per girl) and our bed night fees. We do not receive money from other agencies.
- We are self sufficient. The District of Sechelt does not contribute to the maintaining or management of the camp – garbage, roads, fencing etc.
- Over the years we have worked successfully with our neighbours on issues involving a halfway house on Browning Road and the geoducks.
- We are all volunteers.
- We have approximately 5000 girls and Guiders using our camp each year mainly from the Lower Mainland, but also from throughout the Province, Canada and international.
- We are the largest Girl Guide camp in the Province.
- We are very conscious of the environment and practice and teach conservation and appreciation of our natural resources. For many girls their weekend or week at Camp Olave is their only encounter with the outdoors and marine life.
- The financial inability to pay the tax may put the whole mater into litigation for years which will not help anyone.
- What does Camp Olave mean to you?
Your Camp Olave Management Committee is working diligently with a number of options, including reassessment of our land, and returning to the Sunshine Coast Regional District which would exempt us from taxes under the Rural Property Tax, section 15. We have retained legal council and have the full support of our Provincial Commissioner, Daphne MacGregor-Greer and her entire Council. As we progress, we will let you know through your Area newsletter. We ask for your support. The bottom line is that we cannot afford to pay taxes. If we lose this battle we will lose the camp. That is heartbreaking. Future generations of girls need to have the opportunity to camp in this magnificent location and enjoy the beauty of the forest, the ocean and the entire camping environment. They will only benefit from this experience.
Yours in Guiding,
Camp Olave Management Committee