WHEREAS the Government of Canada owns and operates facilities for the exclusive purpose of carrying out agricultural research, rather than the production or sale of agricultural products;AND WHEREAS all improvements on similar research facilities owned by the private sector are assessed and taxed as commercial facilities;AND WHEREAS the Municipal Grants Branch of Public Works and Government Services has declared improvements on these research facilities exempt from assessment on the same basis as improvements used for the production and sale of agricultural products;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the federal Minister of Public Works and Government Services amend the assessment exemption status, which department officials have applied to farm-related improvements on federal government research facilities.
Agriculture Canada operates two large agricultural research facilities within the County of Lethbridge. In addition to laboratories, offices and other support facilities, these research centres include improvements for housing and feeding livestock, and maintaining the equipment used in these operations.Since the primary purpose of these operations is research rather than the production and sale of agricultural products, these support facilities have been assessed and payment in lieu of taxes have been received for all improvements.Recently, the Municipal Grants Branch of Public Works and Government Services has stated no payment in lieu of tax would be provided on these “farm improvements”. Their position is based on the fact that similar improvements on farms, which produce and sell agricultural products, are exempt from assessment. This arbitrary decision has resulted in a $50,000 loss in revenue for the County of Lethbridge.Within the County of Lethbridge, similar improvements on a smaller research farm owned by a chemical manufacturing company are fully assessed. The position taken by the federal Department of Public Works and Government Services erodes the provisions of the legislation, which exempts farm improvements from assessment because they are used for the production and sale of agricultural products. If the decision to exempt these facilities from assessment is upheld, this would set a significant precedent for similar facilities throughout Alberta.