The Kildonan mansion at 931 Foul Bay Rd. is part of the Oak Bay heritage registry. (Black Press Media File Photo)

The Kildonan mansion at 931 Foul Bay Rd. is part of the Oak Bay heritage registry. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Oak Bay declines Kildonan House permissive tax exemption

Council briefs include new transformer for Oak Bay Rec., strata policy

Oak Bay declines Kildonan House permissive tax exemption

A charitable apartment learned the District of Oak Bay does not provide permissive tax exemptions on property tax.

Despite that, and because the neighbouring municipalities of Saanich and Victoria do, the society that runs the Kildonan House apartments on 931 Foul Bay Rd. applied for a property tax exemption.

Oak Bay council denied the application.

“We don’t have any property tax exemptions for anything outside the ones that are provincially mandated or on municipal property,” Mayor Kevin Murdoch said. “It’s not that [this application] is the wrong thing to do, it’s just a complete change in policy, and there’s no appetite for changing the policy on the fly.”

Since 1990, the Samuel Maclure designed Kildonan House (built in 1913), has been run by the DeMezey Memorial Abbeyfield Legacy Society as low-income, independent seniors housing.

When the B.C. Assessment value for the property increased 13 per cent this year, society president Cliff Bancroft sought options to save money for the Kildonan’s small budget. It started with an appeal on the B.C. Assessment value to the Property Assessment Review Panel.

READ MORE: Not for sale, historic Kildonan House to remain low cost seniors housing

READ ALSO: Historic mansion now home for seniors, up for sale

“The PARP sympathized but told us they couldn’t help,” Bancroft said.

Bancroft had seen the list of Saanich’s and Victoria’s tax-exempt properties. However, Bancroft learned there was no mechanism in Oak Bay. The director of financial services, Chris Paine, created an application form [similar to the Victoria form] but warned Bancroft it was likely to be denied, Bancroft said.

“The main thing we’re upset about isn’t Oak Bay,” Bancroft said. “It’s the B.C. Assessment increase by 20-odd per cent. The reason for that, is reviewing the property as a commercial enterprise, what the rents should be.”

The society’s property taxes increased in 2020 to $12,743 from $10,366 the year before, Bancroft reported.

“That’s 20 per cent of the society’s gross income,” Bancroft said.

The only properties that are tax exempt in Oak Bay were built into the municipal bylaws. Those include the Kiwanis Manor on Milton Street, and the scout hall (next to the fire and police stations).

The DeMezy Memorial society is an all-volunteer program and the house has seven individual apartments, one bachelor suite, two two-bedrooms and four one-bedroom suites.

Coun. Eric Zhelka leads new strata policy

Council voted in favour of Coun. Eric Zhelka’s suggestion to add a process to deal with applications for legal non-conforming duplexes in Oak Bay in the coming Housing Framework.

Staff will include a provision of a policy related to “the strata title conversion of existing rental housing as part of the preparation of a Housing Framework for Oak Bay strata title conversion policy.”

Zhelka noted that the official community plan does not provide any guidance with respect to rental vacancy rates or strata subdivisions.

“The district also does not have any policy respecting strata conversion, so there is [currently] no additional guidance provided to staff for evaluating these applications,” Zhelka wrote.

In the 1980s, Oak Bay council removed zoning for duplexes, making the existing ones legal non-conforming. Last year, however, Oak Bay introduced a new zoning for new duplex builds. Only one building has been built with that zoning so far. However, another homeowner, on Wooton Crescent, has received a permit to stratify the duplex house, which the owners had planned to renovate.

Oak Bay Rec. to replace transformer

Oak Bay has awarded a contract to Houle Electric to replace the 47-year-old transformer and substation at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

The projected cost is $176,895 but is also expected to go $100,000 over budget. Ownership of the equipment will be transferred to BC Hydro.

The current transformer was installed in 1973 with an expected use of 35 to 40 years.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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