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Response: Canadian Museum for Human Rights

News release details

RE: City taxes hover over museum

Unexpected bill challenges institution's bottom line

By Mia Rabson

As reported by Mia Rabson in her article titled City taxes hover over museum – Unexpected bill challenges institution's bottom line in the Winnipeg Free Press on Sept. 30th, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) 2009–2010 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament.

I would like to clarify some inaccuracies in the article with respect to the Museum's operating budget and Payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILT).

The article stated that the Museum "didn't know it would have to pay" city taxes. That is false. Upon appointment in August 2008, the Museum's Board of Trustees was aware of the need to find solutions to PILT. As a federally owned property, the CMHR will pay property taxes to the City of Winnipeg under the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Act. As is the normal process, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) received the City of Winnipeg's formal application to the PILT program on August 6th, 2010. This application is for both 2009 (partial) and 2010 property taxes. While the amount of taxes which will be due once the Museum is complete has yet to be determined, these annual payments will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue in perpetuity.

In addition, the article claimed that the Museum "went $5.2 million over budget last year". As outlined in the Annual Report, $8.6 million was allocated for 2009–2010. We completed this year's work $86,000 under budget. We accomplished a tremendous amount of work which included getting this massive construction project started, engaging Canadians from coast to coast to coast, allowing the Museum to become better known across the country and around the world, and moving ahead with our content and exhibit development.

The economic and social impact of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights for Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada is immense including, but going far beyond property taxes. We are building an unprecedented and extraordinary institution and we are managing the project seriously, transparently, and efficiently. For more information about our work to date, I invite you to read our Annual Report by visiting www.humanrightsmuseum.ca.

Regards,
Stuart Murray
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Museum for Human Right

See full annual report: http://humanrightsmuseum.ca/about-museum/corporate-governance/corporate-reports/annual-reports