Langley City councillor Rudy Storteboom.

Langley Food Bank denied tax break

City staff report cites financial pressures

The executive director of the Langley Food Bank was disappointed about the City of Langley’s decision to deny them a break on their property tax bill, but said he knows the city has financial pressures.

“We kind of understand,” Iain Mair said, adding the registered non-profit society would apply again next year.

It was the second application by the Food Bank located on the 5700 block of 203 Street for a break on the $11,000 it pays each year in property taxes.

On Monday, council approved $286,000 in full and partial tax exemptions for properties belonging to several non-profit agencies and charities including the Gateway of Hope homeless shelter, the Langley Seniors Resource Society and the Langley Lodge.

The food bank was one of three applicants asking to be added to the list of exempted properties, along with the Red Cross and the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

A staff report to City council said all three should be turned down because of the “current pressures on the financial resources of the City.”

At the Sept. 19 Council meeting to give preliminary approval to the tax exemption list, Coun. Rudy Storteboom made a pitch for the Food Bank, saying the organization has provided “some 27 years of faithful service to our community,” and to refuse the request would make the City the only municipality in the region that doesn’t give the local food bank a property tax exemption.

“They (Langley Food Bank) have not asked for any more from the City or anybody,” Storteboom said.

“(They do) great work.”

Councillor Gayle Martin said every time the City gives someone a tax break, it means everyone else has to pay a little more.

“I can’t see our taxpayers continually subsidizing this,” Martin said.

“We’re just going to get more and more and more requests (if we override the staff recommendation).”

The Storteboom proposal was defeated on a 4-2 vote.

In 2014, the Langley Food Bank quit the Food Banks BC association which represents 96 food banks in the province.

At the time, the association said there was a “philosophical disagreement” between the association and the food bank concerning The Ethical Food Banking Code that all members of Food Banks BC are expected to follow.

The association said there had been a “significant” number of complaints, both from clients of the Langley Food Bank, and from donors, mostly about food bank decisions to deny service to people.

As a result, the association invited Sources, food bank based out of South Surrey, to set up shop in Langley.

Operating from rented premises in the United Church of Langley at 5673 200 St., Sources takes a “low-barrier” approach that only requires clients to provide a picture I.D. to show they live in the area.

If someone happens to be homeless, or without picture I.D., arrangements can still be made.

The Sources Langley food bank is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.