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Bailey House to get tax break

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 15/06) - Yellowknife's first homeless shelter for men received a boost from city council on Monday.

All but one councillor voted for the city to give the future facility funding.

The motion was put forward to give Bailey House - the yet-to-be-built men's shelter - $54,000, equivalent to a 50 per cent tax break over five years.

The motion was first discussed at a Priorities, Planning and Budget Committee meeting on Nov. 27.

Councillor David Wind said he supported the idea of having Bailey House in Yellowknife, but voiced the same concerns he did at the Nov. 27 meeting before being the lone member to vote against the motion.

"The owner/operator has not yet been officially identified and I don't think it's a good idea making funding decisions that (they) may decide in the future they don't need."

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said that the city has been negotiating closely with the local chapter of the Salvation Army and they have all but officially agreed to be the owner and operator of the future shelter.

Wind said he didn't agree with the way council was deciding quickly the funding when there are many groups who may be waiting for core grants - given annually to specific not-for-profit groups in Yellowknife. Back in November, Wind was concerned the not-for-profit home was not following the usual grant application processes.

Councillor Bob Brooks said he wanted to make one point clear.

"This is not core funding," he said. "It's a tax adjustment and we do have policies for tax adjustments."

Dave Devana, director of corporate services for the city, explained that the last owner of the property was paying $8,000 in property taxes, a few years ago and the shelter will pay close to $16,000 per year for its property taxes. He added, the city isn't losing money by giving a break to Bailey House.

Brooks asked if the funding for the house would be reflected in the budget. Devana said the funding would be in the 2008 budget and wouldn't affect councillor's decisions on finalizing the 2007 budget later this month.

Councillor Kevin Kennedy said he strongly agreed with the motion to grant the funding.

"What we have to remember is the people of Yellowknife spoke clearly and loudly during the election on the concern of crime, vandalism, homelessness and other social problems..." he said.

Shelagh Montgomery said, "I too want to voice my support for this motion...It's commendable."

Councillor Mark Heyck said projects like Bailey House must get the city's help to survive.

"Given this is not a money making industry, it is important, I think, the city support the sustainability of this project."

Bailey House will be located on the property of the old fire hall on Franklin Avenue. The old fire hall was demolished only hours before city council came together on Monday.

The shelter is expected to open in the Fall of 2007.