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Langley councillor looks to strip tax breaks from churches defying COVID-19 health orders

A handful of churches across the region have continued to host Sunday service despite public health orders banning all gatherings. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

A Langley Township councillor doesn’t think churches who are defying public health orders in her town amid the COVID-19 pandemic should qualify for certain tax breaks.

Kim Richter brought a notice of motion forward to council Monday night asking that churches applying for Permissive Tax Exemptions for 2022 must prove they weren’t given a fine for defying public health orders.

“The way it will work is, when these organizations come to apply for the tax exemption, we can see if the organization was given any fines during the public health order,” said Richter.

Read more: Langley, B.C., church fined for violating COVID-19 restrictions

Current B.C. health orders ban public gatherings, including in-person church services, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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A handful of churches across the region, including some in Langley Township, have continued to host Sunday service as normal despite those public health orders.

“It’s not fair,” Richter said. “Why should you enjoy the benefits of the public purse at the same time as you’re putting the people who pay that public purse at risk by your actions?”

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The motion also asks staff to look into if there’s a way to retroactively repeal or recoup 2020/2021 permissive property tax exemptions for organizations that have been fined.

Richter’s motion has been sent back to staff to look at wording.

It could be coming back to council as early as Jan. 25.