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Prince George city council approves closing tax loophole for daycare centres in schools

City council approves resolution it will take to North Central Local Government Association to ask province to find a way to collect those taxes
Prince George city council wants to have mechanism to collect the equivalent of property taxes from daycare centres operating in schools.

Prince George city council has approved a draft resolution to the North Central Local Government Association to close a loophole that allows daycare centres to operate in school buildings without paying property taxes to the city.

Through the NCLGA, the city will ask the Minister of Education and Child Care to provide a mechanism that will allow local governments to collect the equivalent of property taxes from childcare centres housed on school property.

Changes to the School Act several years ago resulted in several day cares in the city setting up in unused school spaces to address a shortage of childcare spaces. While council has no objections to that policy, it does want those businesses to pay taxes.

“In conversations with both the ministry and Northern Health, we’re seeing a huge influx in the number of daycare centres being operating in schools,” said Coun. Tim Bennett, in Monday’s public meeting. “We recently saw an announcement of three new significant centres being built over the next three years on school district property, so I think it’s important that we start this conversation now, as it’s going to continue to have ripple effects.”

March 8 is the deadline for submissions to the NCLGA’s annual report and resolutions book and city staff  has prepared a draft letter submission on the daycare resolution as well as previous resolutions council has made.

Coun. Ron Polillo suggested the city should raise the school daycare taxation issue with the Union of B.C. Municipalities and ultimately with the province to provide clarity on how cities should go about collecting those taxes.

Polillo also suggested sening a copy of its resolution to School District 57 administration so the school district is not blindsided by the proposal.

“I think we have to balance it with the need for childcare spaces,” said Coun. Brian Skakun. “We want to make sure the folks going in to these vacant schools aren’t hit unexpectantly with a big tax bill. So we have to make  sure as we go forward we get some consultation with them as well.”