Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/8/2018 (461 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg School Division faces a loss in property tax revenue when Peguis First Nation's Portage Avenue property is declared an urban reserve, but a division official says the situation has to be considered in the context of long-term potential.
Trustee Chris Broughton, who is the finance chairman, said the division will lose $66,000 in annual income — as Peguis will no longer be paying school taxes on 1075 Portage Ave. — but he said it is only a fraction of the division’s $410-million annual budget.
"The $66,000 in lost taxes is a lot of money," Broughton said Friday. "We are disappointed with the loss of that revenue into the future as that property is developed and increases in value. (But) Peguis First Nation is within its right not to have to pay school division taxes."
Broughton said as Peguis develops its property, it will create opportunities for new business and jobs, increase property values, and will help attract families to the area and lead to more children enrolling in the city's largest school division.
"The economic development of that area is going to lead to positive outcomes for the Winnipeg School Division, and we look forward to those opportunities."
Peguis broke ground this week on the first phase of an expected $30-million development on the Portage Avenue property, with the construction of a 14,125-square-foot, two-storey commercial building, which officials valued at $6.5 million.
The First Nation also plans for a six-storey office building and two 48-unit apartment towers in subsequent development.
Chief Glenn Hudson said he expects the property to be declared an urban reserve within a matter of days – making it Peguis’ first in Winnipeg, and the second of its kind in the city. (Long Plain acquired a similar designation for its Madison Street property.)
First Nation urban reserves are exempt from paying property taxes, but are required to sign municipal service agreements for the provision of basic services, such as water and sewer, firefighting, and garbage and recycling collection.
The 2018 property tax bill for the 1075 Portage Ave. property has Peguis paying WSD $66,466 in school taxes, a further $45,354 to the province for the education support levy, and $58,474 to city hall for municipal property taxes.
Peguis signed a five-year services agreement with the City of Winnipeg that will result in the First Nation’s entire tax bill on the property being replaced with a single annual charge of about $46,000, which goes directly to city hall.
Peguis and six other First Nations also expect to acquire 110 acres of the former Kapyong Barracks property in south Winnipeg, with plans to convert it into an urban reserve.
Broughton said development on both sites, each within the WSD boundaries, will have positive spin-offs, not just for the First Nation communities but for all of the city — and that will benefit the school division.
Broughton said urban reserves aren’t the only property holders that are exempt from paying school taxes, pointing to religious organizations, universities, colleges, Manitoba Hydro, hospitals and other levels of government.
The division won't be out-of-pocket should Kapyong be declared an urban reserve. A WSD official said the federal government hadn't paid any fees to the division in lieu of education taxes for the years when the property was an active Canadian Forces barracks or since it's been vacant.
"The continued growth of Kenaston (Boulevard area) can only benefit us from a property tax-revenue perspective," Broughton said. "In the bigger picture, the opportunities that come from a more diverse and stronger community is going to benefit the educational opportunities for our people."
— with files from Dylan Robertson
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.