Prologue - Alberta's Challenge - Equitable municipal access to industrial property tax assessment in Alberta

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Then Minister of Municipal Affairs, Rob Renner said on April 16, 2006 the following in the Alberta Legislature; "A message that I've been sending to municipalities, and it's as a result of changes to the Municipal Government Act in 1995 - is that all municipalities are now equal. There is no definition in the Municipal Government Act of urban and rural municipalities. Every municipality has the right to grow, and they are exercising that right. What they don't have is a right to impede their neighbour's right to grow, and that's where we're running into some of these conflicts."

The assertion of a "right to grow" also comes with a responsibility to provide adequate resources and that the "right" is meaningless unless all municipalities are supplied equitable opportunity. An analogy would be that all children have a right to grow but the "right" is meaningless if we only give some of them access to nourishing food. When discussing municipal sustainability, assessment is the "food" of municipalities.

Our municipalities are not "now equal" as Mr. Renner stated. When a large number of municipalities are not provided equitable access to the industrial and resource tax base of Alberta, regardless of their respective contribution, it is impossible for them to progress, compete, and fulfill their "right to grow." It is even more disconcerting that many of these municipalities are surrounded by huge industrial assessment revenues but unable to access them simply because of existing municipal borders.

Towns and villages throughout Alberta, even when located in wealthy regions, are being kept poor due to lack of access to Albert'a industrial property tax revenues.
Many towns and villages get little, some even less than 2%, access to regional Industrial Assessment sources while many fortunate MDs and Counties surrounding these towns and villages get over 85% of their property tax revenue from industrial assessment. In simple terms this means that more than 85 cents from every dollar of their property tax revenue comes from a resource based industrial windfall. 

Towns or villages, located inside of a county, whose citizens obviously contribute to the prosperity and development of a region's wealth are excluded from accessing these resources and also unable to participate equitably in setting a regions priorities. This cannot be fair, and isn't.
I believe that all Albertans, urban and rural, contribute to the prosperity of the Province and its regions and that access to the resulting wealth from the resource and industrial base should be available, on an equitable basis, to all of the citizens of this province. 

Happenstance should not be the cornerstone of Alberta's property tax system. It is time to resolve this issue.
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