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Iqaluit mayor drops motion to tax churches, says similar motion already passed

Kenny Bell proposed the motion on Twitter following the discovery of what are believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools in Canada, and was set to bring it to city council Tuesday night.

One city councillor says taxes on places of worship would limit their ability to offer services

A few dozen children’s shoes were placed on the steps of St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, in late June. Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell had proposed taxing churches but dropped the idea ahead of a council meeting Tuesday night. (Emma Tranter/The Canadian Press)

The mayor of Iqaluit said he will no longer bring forward a motion to make the city's churches pay taxes on land use.

Kenny Bell proposed the motion following the discovery of what are believed to be hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools in Canada and was set to bring it to city council Tuesday night.

But Bell said in a statement that he made a similar motion back in February to look at how non-profits in the city, including churches, are exempt from paying property taxes.

Bell says he made a similar motion back in February to look at how non-profits in the city, including churches, are exempt from paying property taxes. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Bell said that motion, which passed unanimously, recommends that a non-profit property tax exemption be developed on a sliding scale.

"They do provide community good, I know that, but so do a lot of people like our homeowners who pay a lot of tax to provide services within the community," Bell said. 

"Firefighters, ambulance drivers, you know all of those people all pay taxes. So, you know, giving a tax break to one organization over everybody else just doesn't make sense logically."

Iqaluit city councillor Sheila Flaherty said in another statement that she spoke with church leaders and other community members who were upset by Bell's proposed motion.

Flaherty, an Inuk, said places of worship would be negatively affected by taxation and would limit the services they offer.

With files from Jordan Konek

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