A St. John's city councillor is being encouraged to pursue his ideas about a municipal tax relief plan for older residents.

"There's a lot of seniors out there who are really hurting," said Coun. Frank Galgay, who said the city's existing property tax rebates for seniors are out of reach for some residents.


Coun. Frank Galgay would like the City of St. John's to broaden its tax relief for seniors. (CBC)

To qualify, a person must be receiving both the old age pension and the guaranteed income supplement. Galgay said many residents who actually own property don't qualify for the city's program, which amounts to a rebate of 25 per cent. 

Galgay said the boom in property values is causing grief for people who lived on fixed incomes.

"I receive phone calls from all over the city," Galgay said. "I receive correspondence from people who are struggling, who have to make choices."

Retired civil servant Georgina Queller said she is not sure how she will be able to continue to pay rising property taxes.

"The only way I can save is on heat, so in the winter time I have a space heater, and I use a triple weight fleece blanket and I'm cold all the time," said Queller, 69, who downsized her home eight years ago as she prepared for retirement.

Queller, who doesn't qualify for the city's program, said her property taxes have doubled in that time.

"You can't afford to rent. If I lose this because of taxes, where am I going to go?" she said.

Kathleen Connors, who chairs the Aging Issues Network, said a more flexible program at City Hall would be helpful.

"One of the highest areas of concern is that they be able to remain in their own homes as long as possible," Connors said.