Mission gives to St. Joseph’s food bank

Ron Leger has taken on the responsibility of fundraising for and building the new food bank building.

Ron Leger has taken on the responsibility of fundraising for and building the new food bank building.

District council has found a way to circumvent a tax law loophole that wouldn’t allow it to waive nearly $16,000 in development fees for a charitable food bank.

Under the Local Government Act and Community Charter, churches like St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Seventh Avenue are statutorily exempt from development cost charges (DCC) if council has granted a permissive tax exemption.

But because the food bank isn’t technically within the place of worship, it isn’t allowed to waive the $15,764.05.

The food bank, which paid $1,993.55 for a building permit June 7, asked council on July 4 if it could waive the DCCs. Although the district cannot do that, it instead voted unanimously to donate the full amount of the DCC costs back to the food bank once the fees have been paid.

Mayor James Atebe noted the food bank is an essential service that operates without government assistance and should be valued.

A food bank has been operating out of St. Joseph’s basement since 1992, distributing up to $50,000 in retail food value monthly, assisting as many as 529 local residents each month in 2009.

Ron Leger, a Mission accountant helping with the construction, estimates for every dollar donated there is $25 going toward feeding those in need.

The food bank currently costs $2,000 a month to operate thanks in large part to volunteers.

The new two-storey building will accommodate the growing need, with the $250,000 in estimated construction costs coming from private donors and gifts of materials and labour.

Nearly $50,000 has been allocated so far, mainly for engineering and building design.

Mainland Sand and Gravel donated $9,000 worth of materials and Vantage Contracting has agreed to do roughly $15,000 in excavating work.

Actual construction of the building is slated for September or October and Leger says he hopes the food bank can reopen in its new digs in early 2012.

The district will donate the money from the 2011 contingency fund which presently has a balance of about $44,000 from an annual allocation of $100,000.