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Saanich to cover property taxes for Nigel House site after tax-policy change

The site is not eligible for an exemption while it’s not being used for supportive housing because it’s under construction, leaving Broadmead Care Society with a $26,000 bill.
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Construction is underway on an 88-unit supportive housing project at 851 Nigel Ave. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The District of Saanich has agreed to cover Broadmead Care Society’s tax bill this year for what will eventually be an 88-unit supportive-housing development.

Council voted unanimously to provide $26,000 from its affordable-housing fund to cover the 2024 property taxes for what will become the new Nigel House at 851 Nigel Ave.

Mayor Dean Murdock said drawing money from the affordable-housing fund solved a difficult problem for the Broadmead Care Society.

“They were caught in a challenging circumstance of changing policies where they had no ability to anticipate these costs and no ability to seek revenue in order to offset them,” he said.

The society had found itself facing a large tax bill as a result of a change to the eligibility requirements for permissive tax exemptions.

Saanich recently endorsed a policy change that would deny tax exemptions for sites not currently being used for supportive housing, and as the 851 Nigel Ave. site is under construction, it’s deemed to not be providing housing.

The property had previously been owned by the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation, which had a statutory property tax exemption. When it changed hands and became the property of Broadmead Care, that statutory tax break was eliminated.

Broadmead was able to get a tax exemption in 2022 and 2023 before the new policy was introduced last year, but with the change to the tax exemption policy, it was out of luck in 2024.

The grant will come from Saanich’s $1.85-million affordable-housing fund, built up via community-amenity contributions provided by developers as part of rezoning applications.

The fund has traditionally been used for the development of affordable- and supportive-housing projects and not to cover tax bills.

Both Saanich council and district staff stressed the $26,000 would be a one-time grant.

Murdock said non-profit organizations building supportive and affordable housing in the district should now be taking into account in their budgets the fact that once the actual housing is no longer present — the housing has been demolished to make way for a new project — the property is no longer be eligible for a tax exemption.

Murdock said the tax changes should be factored into financial planning in grant applications put forward to senior levels of government.

Broadmead Care’s new 88-unit facility at 851 Nigel Ave. is expected to be completed in 2025.

The project is the first phase of a 10-year, $250-million housing redevelopment that will eventually provide 800 new homes in the Nigel Valley.

The project includes approximately 440 affordable rental homes and 255 units of market housing.

The redevelopment of Nigel House includes 41 long-term-care beds, 37 homes with supports for seniors and veterans, and 10 affordable rental units for independent seniors and veterans.

The new building will replace the current Nigel House, which was built in 1970 and updated in the 1990s.

aduffy@timescolonist.com