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County Council discusses new tax incentives for non-residential properties

County of Wetaskiwin Council discussed new tax incentives for non-residential properties at the regular Feb. 23, 2021 council meeting.

The provincial government has developed two pieces of legislation that would give municipalities the opportunity to reduce non-residential taxes.

The first piece of legislation, Regulation 202/2017- Matters Relating to Assessment Sub-Classes was first introduced in 2017 and allows the non-residential assessment class to be split into a vacant non-residential property, small business property, or other non-residential property.

The second legislation developed, Bill 7- Municipal Government (Property Tax Incentives) Amendment Act, was developed in 2019 and will allow municipalities to create a bylaw to grant full or partial exemptions to certain industries.

“Bill 7 does give a lot more options,” says County Director of Assessment Services, Rene Boutin.

This bylaw will offer incentives to reduce, exempt or defer the collection of property taxes for non-residential properties for up to 15 years with the option of renewal and will establish an eligibility criteria and application process to streamline tax incentive offers instead of requiring a separate council resolution or bylaw for each property.

Both pieces of legislation will allow tax forgiveness to a group of non-residential properties.

Although Council carried the recommended resolution by Administration that Council approve the use of Bill 7 for the purpose of encouraging the development or revitalization of non-residential properties for the general benefit of the municipality as previously used in 2020; Council will discuss the subject further at the March 2, 2021 Council meeting.

Council wants to see more concrete figures and numbers on how a tax forgiveness or reduction would impact the County before making final decisions on the issue. “I feel like we are putting the cart before the horse… I want to see the spreadsheets, that’s all I want to see right now,” says Councillor Rooyakkers.

“If we implement this it will likely be a rest of forever thing,” says Reeve Josh Bishop.

More updates following this story to come