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 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.