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Cabinet minister denies Canada Day tornado victims relief

Mountain View County asks province to forgive a portion of education taxes owed by property owners impacted by the Canada Day tornado
Debris covers the ground in front of a house destroyed in the Canada Day tornado along Highway 2A north of Carstairs. Dan Singleton/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Provincial Minister of Education Demetrios Nicolaides has denied a request from Mountain View County to forgive a portion of education taxes owed by property owners impacted by the Canada Day tornado.

“Based on a review of government’s legislation and policies as they relate to this situation, I have not approved an exemption to Mountain View County for the education portion of the 2023 properly taxes fro the seven identified properties,” Nicolaides said in a letter to the county.

“I understand the devastating loss that a property owner may endure when a tornado touches down. I commend your council for providing relief to impacted landowners by cancelling their municipal property taxes.”

The letter was discussed and received for information during a recent council meeting.

An EF4 tornado destroyed houses, farm buildings, vehicles and livestock, and caused other widespread damage when it tore across a swath of Mountain View County north of Carstairs on July 1.

On Aug. 9 council approved the cancellation of 50 per cent of 2023 municipal property taxes for the seven affected properties.

In a letter to the minister sent soon thereafter, the county asked for the province to forgive a portion of the education tax owed by the impacted property owners.

“We would like to respectfully ask the province of Alberta parallel Mountain View County’s initiative by offering a 50 per cent cancellation of the Alberta School Foundation Fund amounts for these respective properties,” reeve Angela Aalbers said in the letter. “According to our records, 50 per cent cancellation would currently equate to $5,050.21.

“I appreciate your attending to this matter and support of our initiative to minimize the financial burdens facing our landowners as they work towards recovery from this event.”

During the Nov. 15 council meeting, reeve Aalbers called minister Nicolaides’ response wholly unacceptable.

“I would like to state my absolute disappointment on their lack of willingness to support our residents,” said Aalbers. “With council’s support I would like to write a letter back and state our disappointment. 

“I just don’t think it is acceptable that the minister is not willing to support our residents like we have supported our residents and I think our residents deserve for us to send a letter back.”

Council agreed that Aalbers should send a rebuttal letter to Nicolaides.

Hundreds of volunteers from the region and across the province helped with the month-long clean-up of properties damaged in the Canada Day storm. A fundraiser held in Carstairs garnered more than $100,000 for the victims.

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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