Iqaluit food bank seeks rebate on property taxes

Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre executive director admits ‘oversight’ in not filing for reduction

Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre is asking for a property tax rebate for the year 2023, after the organization missed the application to apply for one. Executive director Rachel Blais, shown here, formally asked Iqaluit city council for a rebate on Nov. 28. (File photo)

By David Lochead

Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre is asking for a retroactive property tax rebate from the City of Iqaluit.

In 2022, the city revised a bylaw so selected non-profit organizations could pay reduced property taxes.

However, Qajuqturvik mistakenly failed to apply for a property tax rebate this year, executive director Rachel Blais told city council at its Nov. 28 meeting.

Qajuqturvik is an Iqaluit non-profit organization that aims to improve access to food. It offers free daily meals, country food boxes, classes in cooking and financial literacy as well as on-the-land youth programs.

Because Qajuqturvik is a non-profit organization and not a property owner, the agency has historically never needed to consider property taxes, she said.

“This was an oversight on our part,” Blais said.

The organization’s landlord is the Diocese of the Arctic. The lease agreement stipulates Qajuqturvik bears responsibility for property taxes in building 655, where it operates.

Over the past year Qajuqturvik has served more than 60,000 free, healthy meals to the community, Blais said.

However, in two years it has doubled the number of meals served, which shows the escalating challenges community members have.

She said Qajuqturvik is in a precarious financial situation. Donations have dwindled by 50 per cent this year, “aligning with the typical downturn in donations seen in challenging economic times.”

Coun. Kyle Sheppard said he cannot imagine Iqaluit without Qajuqturvik operating.

“Your organization makes up a massive part of the social safety net of our community,” he said, adding he’d “love” to find a way to grant the request.

However, Sheppard said the city needs time to consider a solution. He asked city staff to come up with options to consider at the next council meeting.

“The relief that’s built into the bylaw is specifically for organizations like yours,” Sheppard said.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Maq-Pat on

    Only the property owner can apply for a property tax exemption. The Diocese appear to have had no problems with their many other properties, this was not the food bank’s oversight it appears to be a deliberate tactic from the Diocese’s.

    This is the same propery that the Diocese kicked out a previous non-profit tenant will little notice and despite that tenant’s role in fundraising to build this building in the first place.

    If the City wants to make a recurring donation to the food bank, they should absolutely do that. This should not be done through property tax shenanigans that give money to the Diocese, just because the Diocese has pushed that tax onto their non-profit tenants.

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    • Posted by Great Thought on

      I was coming to the comments to say this should be a no-brainer that the city grant the request, but the city making a donation in (at least) the amount of the property tax seems like an even better idea to me.

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    • Posted by alex on

      Depends on the lease agreement. If it is a single-net lease agreement, common in commercial leasing, the property tax becomes the responsibility of the tenant. There are single-net and double-net lease agreements that cover those type of costs associated to the property. Based on what the article is saying, I assume one of these types of lease are in effect. This differs from residential leases.

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      • Posted by John K on

        I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure the property owner would still be responsible for applying for anything like a rebate. Even in a single net lease.

    • Posted by iWonder on

      Maq-Pat, which non-profit organization do you think the Diocese kicked out of the building previously? If you’re thinking the thrift store, it wasn’t the Diocese that kicked them out, it was the food bank.

      • Posted by Maq-Pat on

        Yes, I am referring to the thrift-store. You are correct, these property tax shenanigans are not the first time the Diocese has hidden behind the food bank.

        • Posted by It’s actually the food centre on

          The folks that kicked the thrift store out of Building 655 were the food centre, not the food bank (although the food centre may well have taken over the food bank by this time). But the Diocese let it happen.

  2. Posted by Why on

    Why is Kyle Sheppard treated as city spokesperson? He is not the Mayor, no longer the Deputy Mayor, not a city senior manager. Is Nunatsiaq seeking his input? Is he volunteering his wisdom? It is very strange that he is quoted very often by Nunaysiaq online.

    • Posted by Maq-Pat on

      Katimaji Sheppard is one of the few councilors that consistently participates in council discussions. He is quoted here speaking during a council meeting.

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    • Posted by TP on

      KS is one of the longer serving councillors so he probably feels like somewhat of a spokesperson due to seniority. Or maybe he’s just full of himself. Anyone who has ever seen his social media knows that he has a very high opinion of himself.

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