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WHEREAS Canada is a country built upon the principles of parliamentary supremacy, rather than judicial activism; AND WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has clearly directed that a grant-in-lieu may be applied to single-family dwellings as per s. 366 (4) of the Municipal Government Act, Ch. M-26.1, which states that: If any property listed in subsection (3) [property used in connection with academic, trade, forestry or agricultural schools, colleges or universities, including student dormitories] is a single-family residence, the property must be considered as Crown property when calculating a grant under this section; AND WHEREAS the Municipal Government Board, a quasi-judicial body, has given a very liberal interpretation to s. 362 (1)(d) of the Municipal Government Act, Ch. 26-M1, which states that: The following are exempt from taxation under this Division: property, other than a student dormitory, used in connection with educational purposes ;AND WHEREAS this interpretation has hindered the ability of municipalities to tax these lands and improvements, despite the fact that the municipality is still responsible for the expense of service provision to these lands, and has led to an onslaught of appeals;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties notify the Government of Alberta of its objection to the Municipal Government Board’s liberal interpretation of s.362 (1) (d) of the Municipal Government Act, and the resulting decision to exempt residences held by a university from taxation; AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to amend current legislation to improve its clarity, so as to leave little room for judicial interpretation.
On February 8, 2002 the University of Alberta launched two appeals that were subsequently heard by the Municipal Government Board. The University appealed the taxable assessment placed on residences and the land attributable to the residences at the Ellerslie Research Station and the Edmonton Research Station. Based on the evidence presented, the MGB found the residences and the land attributable to the residences to be used “in connection with educational purposes” and the appellants won the case, resulting in lost assessment and taxes for the City of Edmonton. The success of this appeal led to a similar appeal in Beaver County related to the taxable assessment placed on the residences of the U of A ranch located within the County. The property currently consists of three single-family dwellings and two mobile homes. The property is owned by the Crown in the right of Alberta and is leased to the University of Alberta, Physical Plant Sciences. The employees of the Kinsella Ranch rent these homes from the University and are thus the holders of the residences. The decision of the Assessment Review Board maintained the current assessment on the land and improvements. The University has launched an appeal to the MGB.The latest example of this case comes, again, from the City of Edmonton. The City had assessed some vacant lots of the University as taxable. These lots are considered “Green Spaces” by the University, a portion of which serve as parking spaces. These lots are held by the university for future development. The University appealed the assessment to the MGB level, where the MGB was consistent with its previous decision, granting a liberal interpretation to “in connection with education purposes,” arguing that the “Green Spaces” and parking places were, indeed, being used “in connection with educational purposes.” The legislation currently in place, i.e. s. 366(4) of the MGA, suggests that a grant-in-lieu be placed on single-family dwellings, and therefore it is imperative that the Province of Alberta insist on a stricter interpretation of “in connection with educational purposes.” Barring this, the Province should be urged to amend current legislation to clarify the phrase “in connection with educational purposes.” This may be done by amending s. 362 i. (c) and (d) to state: “but not including any residence and the lands attributable to the residence.” This would more clearly reference residences as exceptions to non-assessable property.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.