Whitehorse Daily Star

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Rick Nielsen

Museum calls for city policy review

The MacBride Museum is calling on the city and its next council to review its policy around the community service grants provided to local organizations to assist with property taxes and utility bills.

By Stephanie Waddell on October 2, 2018

The MacBride Museum is calling on the city and its next council to review its policy around the community service grants provided to local organizations to assist with property taxes and utility bills.

Museum chair Rick Nielsen made the request at Monday’s city council meeting. For many years, he noted, the downtown facility has received a full grant equal to its property taxes.

However, this year, MacBride’s multimillion-dollar expansion saw an increase in the value of the site, and thus an increase in property taxes. That means MacBride’s bill has surpassed the $50,000 cap on the grant the city provides it.

A previous report to council noted the organization’s tax bill came in at $71,000 for 2018.

The taxes represent a big chunk of the museum’s operating budget, Nielsen said.

It could be forced to cut programming, hours and services if it’s required to pay taxes, he told council.

“We still operate on a very tight budget,” he said in response to questions from Coun. Dan Boyd, after pointing to winter closure and fewer programs as possibilities for the museum to deal with the situation.

Nielsen noted the difficulty in the group owning the land it’s on, which means it’s faced with the tax bill.

Revenue coming into the museum would never be substantive enough to cover the cost of taxes, he said.

Comments (14)

Up 7 Down 2

Lynx on Oct 7, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Jim Cleaver, I am amazed to see you advocating for a large piece of prime real estate not paying property taxes. I've seen you on Facebook constantly complaining about how high property taxes are, yet you want an exemption here which inevitably means everyone else including you, paying a bit more to make up the difference. My guess is either that you haven't made the connection I just pointed out or you have friends on the Macbride Board. Maybe you and Rick Nielsen or the executive director are good buddies?

Up 9 Down 2

Juniper Jackson on Oct 6, 2018 at 10:37 am

The new Museum was funded by the Feds.. Joly (Minister of Canadian Heritage) provided 6 million dollars to build it.. before it went up, parking spaces and handouts were given by the City... The thing with a building..is it doesn't go away.. something always has to be done with it.. the bills paid on it...heat, water..etc. They knew when the project first came up that the infrastructure costs of maintaining it would be enormous.. every time the City forks out money or give tax breaks, land, etc. MY taxes go up... I can't even imagine the cost of maintaining the castle on the hill.. but I can imagine not being able to pay my rent.. if utilities and taxes go up 5.00 my landlord ups my rent $50.

Why doesn't the CoW ever consider the consequence of their actions? How the tax hits year after year affect people. .. it just gets harder and harder to live here. Just saying.. I don't consider $299,000 affordable housing.

Up 14 Down 12

Jim cleaver on Oct 5, 2018 at 8:27 pm

I am amazed at how people want to crap all over our museum. For years the Museum had the same old look forever. So many new artifacts were crammed into the old space, but it was still the old space. Now through tireless fund raising, hard work, and countless hours spent writing proposals, by a non-paid group of directors we finally have new exhibit space. So no, I don’t think they should pay any property taxes. Who raised the money to fix and display the iconic Whitehorse Inn sign? Who revived the Water Front trolley and Copper Belt Mining Museum? Maybe some of city council would rather cut programs, staff and hours rather than adjust the agreement. This is why people say the City is anti-development. Seems they would be much happier if everything was just run into the ground. This is their job, to look after our city. This includes museums who are the keepers of our art, heritage and history. This is much more important than a lot of the other pet projects that council don’t seem to mind giving actual tax dollars away on. And no, the museum is not a private business. And as far as the design of the new space, I don’t believe taxes should be based on whether you like it or not. The City Council should be applauding the efforts of these individuals, not standing there with their hands out.

Up 9 Down 7

ProScience Greenie on Oct 5, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Museums are very important to show us the past so I have no problems with zero property tax on that. Same with any major centers having to do with arts, history and science. Some of the other flaky or politically aligned NGO's not so much.

Rick's a great guy and besides having great talks and lots of laughs he'll bring you into and out of remote areas safe and sound.

Up 12 Down 8

Yukoner18 on Oct 4, 2018 at 9:00 pm

@PSG Ok, so if Macbride gets a tax free ride, should every other non-profit? Or maybe they already do, which if that is the case I stand corrected. Macbride needs to either cut salaries, increase what it charges people or find some other way to function without being a burden to taxpayers. Stop going to all levels of government with your hand out.

As for Rick Nielsen, you must be joking right?

Up 4 Down 4

Scott Etches on Oct 4, 2018 at 7:22 pm

Cultural identity is important. We have an opportunity to showcase the vibrancy of the Yukon to the world while offering our young educational opportunities.
I would encourage future Council to review the policy to allow organizations the ability to apply for annual extended relief.

In negotiations with the MacBride Board I would lobby for more programming engaging our youth. Nothing is free, everything else has a price.

Up 11 Down 4

Adam Smith on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:43 pm

I note the Mcbride did not provide any evidence of their suffering.
Their last charity return on CRA shows for the year ending Dec 31 2016, they had revenues of 677k and expenses of 549K. I don't see any suffering. Not making this up. https://apps.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/haip/srch/t3010form23sched6-eng.action?b=119026821RR0001&fpe=2016-12-31&n=MACBRIDE+MUSEUM+SOCIETY

Up 19 Down 4

COW taxpayer on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Attention Mr Rick Nielsen

I too, 'run on a very tight budget'. I don't get to decided whether I pay taxes in whole or in part. I don't even get a say in the annual increase COW jams down our throat. Either I pay them or the sheriff shows up and takes my house.

Up 11 Down 5

Ilove Parks on Oct 4, 2018 at 2:12 am

Hate to say it but if it was open fewer days it may be busier on the days it is open.

Up 15 Down 3

ken kiemele on Oct 3, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Tax payers should not have to pay every time someone or some organization makes a poor decision. Surely someone must have looked at the ultimate cost of the mega- expansion, but apparently not.

Up 15 Down 28

ProScience Greenie on Oct 3, 2018 at 11:27 am

McBride should not have to pay city taxes ever. Simple as that.

Rick Nielsen - the best premier we never had btw.

Up 28 Down 12

Disgusted on Oct 3, 2018 at 8:51 am

You put that KZA EYESORE out for how many millions and now you can't afford it?
Threatening to cut hours? Bullying of it's finest.

Up 25 Down 7

My Opinion on Oct 3, 2018 at 12:48 am

So why in the world did they go out and build a Multi Million Dollar building then? Here is how it works in business, if you do not have enough revenue to support the facility then you don't do it.

So they went and did it and now they want to be bailed out with the tax money that my little "viable" business pays.
I know Rick is not a Liberal but it seems to me there must be a whole flock of them on that board.

Up 28 Down 10

Oldtimer on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:32 pm

This museum is a private business. Not a “non profit” society.
Sounds like the expansion is costing more than they can afford.
Maybe they need to look at their business model.
Free handouts are not a solution.

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