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Council lobbies for grow op tax changes

The town’s bid to lobby the provincial government for the right to collect fair market property taxes from cannabis grow operations has gained traction from at least one area municipality.
Close up of cannabis leaf, lit by warm early morning light
Town of Sundre officials are looking for clarification on how cannabis production facilities can be taxed.

The town’s bid to lobby the provincial government for the right to collect fair market property taxes from cannabis grow operations has gained traction from at least one area municipality.

Sundre CAO Linda Nelson said Didsbury and Mountain View County officials have indicated formal and informal support while Carstairs and Cremona have not.

If legislation is not amended, Sundre town officials believe homeowners and other businesses will be left to shoulder the burden of servicing cannabis grow operations.

According to a section of the Municipal Government Act, Nelson said land used to grow crops as well as farm buildings are exempt from municipal assessment.

Sundre council has asked the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to request the province amend legislation and policies to clearly enable municipalities to assess and tax cannabis grow operations at fair market value.

The Town of Didsbury council passed a motion last month supporting Sundre’s request.

“We share in your concern regarding the municipalities carrying the economic burden of these grow operations and receiving no taxation benefits to offset those costs,” wrote Harold Northcott, the Town of Didsbury’s CAO, in a letter advising Sundre of council’s decision.

Cannabis grow operations are “major, industrial-scale developments consisting of large structures resembling factory environments,” states Sundre’s background information on its AUMA resolution.

“Given their scope and intensity of use, cannabis grow operations represent considerable municipal servicing costs,” the resolution reads.

Additionally, taxation of farm buildings is being phased out in urban municipalities over five years, culminating in a 100 per cent exemption in 2022.

“As significant property value is tied to the industrial-scale structures used in cannabis grow operations, this represents a large loss of taxation base,” states the resolution.

To date, Olds has rezoned land for five production facilities. Not all are proposing to grow crops.

Mountain View County has granted a development permit for a medicinal marijuana production facility in a business park bordering Didsbury. The county is also home to a production facility near Cremona.