Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Philippine centre not paying its taxes: city

Officials seeking to collect $188,000

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THE Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba owes the City of Winnipeg $209,000 in unpaid property taxes and uncollected commercial rent, according to city documents.

The Keewatin Avenue ethno-cultural centre, which opened its doors in 2004, has not paid the city any property tax over the last three years, according to a report prepared by the real estate division of the city's planning, property and development department.

The report also states the centre has declined to forward the city a percentage of the net income on commercial rent it collects from seven tenants, which include a bake shop, travel agency and dental centre.

Factoring in interest and GST, the centre owes the city just over $209,000, but the real estate division is willing to write off late-payment fees and press for the reimbursement of only $188,000.

According to the report, the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba is required to pay approximately $57,000 in annual city property taxes on its $1-a-year city lease, but is exempt from paying provincial education taxes.

"The department is of the understanding that the tenant believes they should also be exempt from the municipal portion of taxes," city real estate managers write in their report.

This is not the first time a Winnipeg ethno-cultural centre has taken such a position. In 2006, the city got into a similar disagreement with Centro Caboto, an Italian cultural centre on Wilkes Avenue, which owed the city hundreds of thousands in taxes and local improvement fees.

During the resolution of that dispute, the city wound up determining all ethno-cultural centres must pay city property taxes, unless they're deemed to be places of worship.

Centro Caboto, which also has a loonie-a-year city lease, receives a $70,000-a-year city subsidy in foregone market rent, while the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba's rent-free subsidy is worth $100,000 a year, city number-crunchers determined in 2006.

This morning, four city councillors will meet behind closed doors to approve a plan to seek $188,000 in reimbursement from the Philippine-Canadian Centre, which was built with the help of $900,000 in federal-provincial funding and a donation of 1.17 hectares of city land.

"They haven't communicated this to us," the centre's executive director Jean Guiang said Monday. "I haven't heard anything about this, so I can't comment."

Guiang said she believes her centre can still apply for a property tax exemption.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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