Winfield Memorial Hall faces financial problems after district withdraws tax-exempt status – Kelowna News

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Directors at Winfield Memorial Hall say they face a financial crisis after losing their tax-exempt status due to a parking dispute with the municipality two years ago.

The Lake Country District says it believes solutions have been found, but administrators refuse to come to the table to discuss them.

The result is an unexpected tax bill of nearly $ 28,000 over the past two years, according to John Fiwchuk, board member and room manager, that they just don’t have.

Fiwchuk told Castanet News that the board of directors made the decision to close its parking lot when the room was not in use several years ago.

“We had security issues with the lobby parking lot. Over time, people sped into the parking lot and went shopping,” he said.

He said they were concerned for the safety of people using the lobby and those crossing the parking lot.

“We could be prosecuted if someone was injured,” he added.

Fiwchuk said the hall and the district reached an agreement a few years ago allowing municipal staff and people using the library to park in the rear part of the hall’s parking lot.

“A few years ago they entered into a contract whereby we (the municipality) control the parking lot, and that has become a problem.”

Administrators, he says, have been told to either give up the parking lot or lose their tax exemption.

Acting Lake Country Mayor Penny Gambell said the town never wanted to use the 24/7 parking lot.

She says parents used the land while they waited to pick up the kids from George Elliot High School in the afternoon, or that it was used if the library or city grounds were full.

“But, when the events unfold and it’s marked, I think people know it and appreciate Memorial Hall. For the most part, I think they would respect that,” she said. at Castanet.

“We’ve tried to work together, and we still want to work with this entry panel, because we really think we should work together.”

Gambell says the board’s concerns about security and other issues were all addressed during the discussions, however, he says the trustees do not seem willing, from the board’s perspective, to come to the table. table.

“All of these issues have been discussed and, from our perspective, have been resolved. But, they don’t seem to think so.”

Gambell says she doesn’t think the municipality was trying to force the board to give in by threatening to take away their tax-exempt status.

“I think we’re looking at it from the taxpayer’s point of view, and the taxpayer is not taking advantage of it here.

“We are responsible to our taxpayers, not just the people who sit on the board, but the whole community. We are ready to work cooperatively and we are very keen to resolve this issue.”

As the dispute drags on, Fiwchuk says the venue suffers financially. He says they haven’t been able to rent the room in the past year due to COVID, and at the same time, have been forced to pay nearly $ 28,000 in taxes.

He says this has put the desire to install air conditioning in the lobby and other renovation projects on hold.

Fiwchuk says the hall makes around $ 24,000 a year, which helps them pay their bills.

He says they are considering increasing their rental fees to help pay taxes.


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