Pioneer Cottages face rent hike or sale

Residents at the cottages had until Monday to consider another voluntary rent increase to pay their property tax bill.

Residents at Pioneer Cottages had until Monday to consider another voluntary rent increase to pay their property tax bill or the cottages will be put up for sale.

A decision was made after the News went to press.

The Alberni Valley Senior Citizens Home Society handed out financial packages at a meeting last Wednesday for residents of the 41 cottages that are part of the Pioneer Tower and Cottages at Wallace Street and 10th Avenue. The society is asking residents to accept a voluntary $159.05 increase per month, which would raise rent to $725 per month. The society needs 100 per cent buy-in from residents in order for the increase to pass.

In September 2015 the society was informed that the cottages no longer qualify for a permissive tax exemption after they were torn down and rebuilt in 2010 and that the society owed $40,000 for the 41 cottages.

The oversight only came to light when BC Assessment asked the City of Port Alberni to conduct an audit of properties receiving tax exemptions.

After a dispute in November over the rental increase, which went to the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch, residents received a 2.9 per cent increase, or about $16 per month, which kicked in April 1, 2016.

“Our sole source of revenue is the rents we receive,” society president George Rogers said Wednesday. Rogers said the board is facing three options when it comes to the cottages: receiving tax relief from the city or the provincial government, approval of the rental increase or putting the cottages up for sale.

Two real estate companies have already been contacted about selling the units.

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