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New rules proposed surrounding non-profit rental of city-owned property

The city is formulating a new policy that allows for non-profit organizations to lease or licence city land at less than full market value in certain circumstances, but with some conditions and interpretation.

Non-profit organizations might have to contend with new rules of eligibility if they want to continue to operate on city-owned property.

The city is formulating a new policy that allows for non-profit organizations to lease or licence city land at less than full market value in certain circumstances, but with some conditions and interpretation.

Under the new policy — which is still in the draft stage — organizations will not only need to establish that they are a registered non-profit organization, but will have to prove the programs or services offered provide “tangible benefits to the residents of Nelson” and that use of the property by the registered non-profit organization “does not conflict with any current or anticipated use of the property by the city.”

Only if the three conditions are met will the land be eligible for lease or licence at the nominal rate, with the city’s corporate officer determining if all circumstances are satisfied.

It was that interpretation that gave Coun. Brittny Anderson pause. She felt some non-profits were charged market value while other organizations “are coming to us and are struggling,” and she was trying to reconcile those two pieces in her mind.

She wondered how the decision was made when one organization will be charged a fee while another will not be charged a fee.

“I don’t have a problem with the policy but I don’t know how the implementation piece works,” she said.

City manager Kevin Cormack said he did not think the city was charging market value rent to any non-profit organization on city-owned property.

“This policy really speaks to those groups that don’t pay anything for the space but require the space,” he said. “It’s not market value.”

The non-profit landscape

The City of Nelson has previously leased or licensed city-owned buildings or land to non-profit organizations.

“Such organizations are often working to enhance the educational, social, cultural and physical well-being of the community,” noted a city staff report.

Often the non-profit organizations are working on a tight budget and require the city to subsidize the space so they can continue to operate.

“Examples of such non-profit organizations include Alcoholics Anonymous and the Nelson and District Seniors Society. Both of these organizations are already using city buildings at no cost.”

Council procedure bylaw

City council has again tabled a decision on changes to its procedure bylaw.

The amendments have caused some hesitation on the part of some councilors and when it came back to council chambers for the last regular meeting for approval, it was mothballed again.

The notable changes are as follows:

  • to generally limit Committee of the Whole (COW) delegations to three per COW meeting (including one staff delegation where appropriate);
  • to clarify that the mayor presides at all meetings at which he/she is in attendance, including COW meetings;
  • to clarify difference between notices of motion and late items and introduce requirement of resolutions by council in order to allow for these to be utilized; and
  • to clarify the difference between reconsideration, rescinding and amending previously-adopted resolutions.

Agenda timelines and correspondence

Two other changes discussed with council are not reflected in the proposed bylaw since these changes are “easily implemented without the need to formalize them in the bylaw,” noted a city staff report to council.

Although not formalized by the current bylaw, the city’s practice has been to make the agenda available to council the day before that (Thursday).

It was proposed that the agenda be made available to council a day earlier than it is currently being provided (Wednesday).

The current bylaw did not specifically address how staff managed correspondence received by the public that was addressed to council.

“As council knows, staff have recently started collecting all correspondence that are not otherwise received by council electronically, and where appropriate, soliciting a response from the relevant city department and then consolidating everything (letter received and city response) into a package that is issued the Friday before council’s regular and committee-of-the-whole meetings,” a city staff report read.

Staff proposed that the procedure be formalized in the new bylaw.