Proposed Alberta Bill gives Municipalities the power to offer tax breaks for brownfield development

The Alberta government recently introduced a Bill in the legislature (Bill 7) entitled the Municipal Government (Property Tax Incentives) Amendment Act. The government claims it has been introduced to help municipalities attract investment and development by giving them the power to offer stronger property tax incentives to business and industry.

A proposed new law would allow Alberta municipalities to offer tax breaks for up to 15 years to businesses willing to set up in commercial or industrial areas of their town or city.

If passed, Bill 7 would allow each municipality to decide if and how to implement the tax incentives by passing a single bylaw that would:

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

“This will give municipalities the tools they need to bring to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, bring investment back into our communities and restore the Alberta advantage for all,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu, at a news conference Tuesday in Sherwood Park.

Right now, municipalities can only cancel, refund or defer taxes based on hardship, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis.

The government said it hopes municipalities can use these new powers to encourage economic development in non-residential areas — including vacant, derelict or under-utilized commercial or industrial property which are, or may be, contaminated.

Elsewhere in western Canada, Saskatchewan allows property tax incentives for up to five years and B.C. allows them for up to 10.

Respondents to Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Brownfield Impact Assessment were asked how many of each type of brownfield sites exist in their municipalities?