Calgary councillors give Kensington legion one-time tax break

Click to play video 'Council gives Calgary legion branch one-time tax break' Council gives Calgary legion branch one-time tax break
WATCH ABOVE: The Kensington legion branch won't have to pay $94,000 in taxes after Calgary city council voted Monday to cancel most of its current and outstanding property taxes. Michael King reports – May 28, 2019

A local legion has received a hefty property tax cut after Calgary city council voted almost unanimously on Monday to help the struggling organization.

The Royal Canadian Legion branch located in Kensington moved to its new location in 2017.

The new four-story building includes a full restaurant, and with the added space, the legion’s property taxes ballooned.

READ MORE: Calgary councillor wants tax forgiveness for Kensington legion branch

A notice of motion submitted to council shows that the legion owed $29,697 in arrears to the city, and asked to have the $46,686 in taxes for the mostly vacant fourth floor canceled.

The legion also asked for its 2019 taxes on the licensed restaurant to be rolled back to what it had paid at the old branch location.

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In total, the city canceled more than $94,000 in property taxes, something that Legion President Mark Barham is thankful for.

“There was absolute recognition that the Royal Canadian Legion does what it does for the veterans, veterans families and communities,” Barham said.

He said the legion asked for tax relief because it’s had trouble renting out the third and fourth floors of the new building.

Despite that, Barham said the idea of partnering legions with non-profit restaurants is still the way forward for struggling legions.

“We’ve had other branch presidents come to visit us from as far away as Ontario,” Barham said. “[They] come to see what the model looks like and how it’s going to work for them.”

READ MORE: Revised plans for Kensington Legion

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that it’s important for the city to help out when necessary, but reinforced that these tax breaks are not the norm.

“We do have a nonprofit operator that is having a bit of trouble,” Nenshi said. “So this is a way of really helping a nonprofit, not so much bailing out the restaurant.”

Barham said he understands the process council went through to provide the financial relief and said he doesn’t plan on going back to council next year.