While the Municipal Government Act (MGA) sets out overarching powers and responsibilities for municipalities, regulations provide details as to how the Act will be implemented in practice. The MGA review processes often involve the review and creation of a number of regulations. Alberta Municipalities prioritizes these regulations for municipal impact and provides detailed input to the province on key changes. These processes typically involve extensive opportunities for member input, including engagement through working groups, Alberta Municipalities committees, and e-newsletter articles or direct emails to members soliciting comments.
Taxation of Cannabis Grow Operations
The federal government reached a cannabis excise tax revenue sharing agreement with the provinces in December 2017, based on the understanding that provinces would share a portion of this revenue with municipalities. To date, the Government of Alberta has not shared any excise tax revenue with municipalities. Alberta Municipalities called on the province to develop an arrangement that provides a fair share of this new tax revenue stream to municipalities, in recognition of the important services we provide. The province has signaled that sharing of this revenue is unlikely during a period of fiscal restraint.
Alberta Municipalities also called on the province to make the necessary regulatory changes to ensure municipalities can assess and tax cannabis growth operations at fair market value. In response to advocacy led by Alberta Municipalities, with the support of RMA and the Alberta Assessors’ Association, on November 13, 2019 Municipal Affairs announced it would update definitions in the Matters Related to Assessment and Taxation Regulation to allow for the assessment and taxation of cannabis production facilities at fair market value. The updated regulation (see section 2.1) was publicly posted in January 2020.
Prior to the provincial announcement, cannabis producers had reached out to Alberta Municipalities to share their position on the taxation model for cannabis production facilities. The industry’s position is that Alberta’s cannabis taxation model needs to be competitive with other provinces in order for the industry to thrive in Alberta. The fact that Alberta’s excise tax rate is the second highest in Canada increases the costs for cannabis producers. Alberta Municipalities will continue to explore opportunities for joint advocacy with the industry on cannabis excise taxation.
Ongoing Regulatory Review
The Community Organization Property Tax Exemption Regulation (COPTER) sets out the conditions and qualifications for property tax exemptions provided to non-profit organizations that carry out a charitable or benevolent purpose for the benefit of the general public.
In July 2017, Municipal Affairs released proposed changes that would reorganize the regulation and alter many definitions with the intent of improving clarity. However, Alberta Municipalities and the Alberta Assessors Association raised significant concerns with the proposed changes including ambiguity in definitions and the classification of various organizations, which would have resulted in significant challenges in implementing the new regulation.
In response, the province agreed to delay implementation and carry out further engagement with assessors, municipal associations, and the Cities of Edmonton and Calgary to seek solutions. Alberta Municipalities participated in this process with the assistance of Brennen Tipton, Manager of Residential Assessment from Strathcona County. In August 2018, Municipal Affairs sent a notice to Chief Administrative Officers and Designated Assessors announcing that changes COPTER will be delayed. Given the complexity and technical nature of the regulation, delay in the implementation is welcome and Alberta Municipalities looks forward to continued discussions on solutions.
October 2017 Regulations
In October 2017, Municipal Affairs released a number of finalized regulations alongside the proclamation of legislative amendments to the MGA. Alberta Municipalities developed an analysis of the finalized regulations based on input from committees. While some of the finalized regulations reflect Alberta Municipalities' input, there are several outstanding issues. High-priority issues involve improving methods of enumerating shadow populations and ensuring that new requirements to refer subdivision applications to Alberta Transportation do not result in undue delays in approvals.
Alberta Municipalities' Analysis of October 2017 Regulations
July 2017 Regulations
In July 2017, 15 proposed regulations were released, including 12 that were prioritized for review by Alberta Municipalities due to their importance to municipalities across the province. In order to develop a response, Alberta Municipalities carried out an extensive multi-stage member engagement process including:
- Open comments from members;
- An administrative working group composed of Chief Administrative Officers and senior municipal administrators;
- Review by the Alberta Municipalities Elected Officials Professional Development, Sustainability and Environment, and Municipal Governance Standing Committees; and
- Review by the Alberta Municipalities Board
Alberta Municipalities' Response to July 2017 MGA Regulations
Previous Alberta Municipalities Submissions on Regulatory Issues
- Code of Conduct for Elected Officials Regulation
- Community Aggregate Payment Levy Regulation
- Community Organization Property Tax Exemption Regulation
- Council and Council Committee Meetings Regulation
- Determination of Population Regulation
- Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework Regulation
- Matters Relating to Assessment Subclasses Regulation
- Off-site Levies Regulation
- Subdivision and Development Appeals Board Regulation
- Subdivision and Development Regulation
- Municipal Corporate Planning Regulation
- Public Participation Policy Regulation