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Olds council rejects tax exemption request

Town officials told Mount View seniors lodge itself can't be taxed but the life lease suites in it can

OLDS — Council has unanimously voted against a request from Mountain View Seniors Housing (MVSH) not to tax life lease suites in the MVSH Mount View Lodge.

Council made that decision during it’s Aug. 24 council meeting.

The 12 life lease suites in the facility were opened in 2011. Since then, they have not been taxed by the town.

That changed this year, after town officials received word that although the Mount View Lodge itself could not be taxed, the life lease suites in it could.

In August, town officials received a letter from MVSH board chair Bruce Beattie asking that those 12 life lease suites be exempt from taxation.

“Many of the life lease residents are also on fixed, low incomes, as are 83 per cent of the Lodge residents who receive housing subsidies,” Beattie wrote.

Finance director Sheena Linderman said during debate on the matter: “It was brought to our attention in early 2020 that these properties are fully taxable and should be taxed, just as a condo would be, even they are owned by a non-profit, which is Mountain View Seniors Housing. Because they are leased out, they are fully taxable."

In a memo, Linderman said the total amount of that tax for 2020 would be $19,991.57.

Coun. Heather Ryan who represents Olds on the MVSH board, noted only seven of the 12 life lease suites are occupied.

She said if council decided to apply the tax, it should not be levied on the five suites that aren’t occupied.

Coun. Wanda Blatz disagreed with that idea.

“When people build homes in town, either on spec or they have duplexes that are empty, we’re still charging them the full taxable amount,” Blatz said. “We don’t give them any kind of concession.

“I understand that Mountain View Seniors Housing is a not-for-profit organization. But we don’t give anyone else any kind of a tax exemption on their property. So therefore, I feel that they should all be taxed equally, whether there are residents in them or not.

“And how the Mountain View Seniors Housing chooses to requisition that or tax those people, that’s their business model, not ours. I think that we need to be fair straight across the board.”

Councillors were told that if MVSH goes the requisition route, residents of all communities in the area could be assessed.

Once MVSH life lease suites were completed in Sundre a few years ago, town officials in that community wanted to tax them, said Ryan.

MVSH officials sent a letter to the Sundre town office arguing against the move, she said.

“The letter from Mountain View Seniors Housing to Sundre was that the town of Olds wasn’t taxing so why would Sundre want to tax us,” she said.