AUMA has released a working analysis of Municipal Government Act (MGA) regulations that were finalized on October 27, 2017. Developed with extensive input from AUMA committees, the analysis notes ongoing priority issues regarding the assessment and taxation of cannabis grow operations, the determination of shadow populations, and subdivision referrals to Alberta Transportation. AUMA is currently in ongoing discussions with Municipal Affairs to develop solutions in the form of regulatory changes and additional guidance resources, and is seeking input from members on regulatory issues.
Assessment and Taxation of Cannabis Grow Operations
Municipalities have expressed concerns that there is a lack of clarity as to whether cannabis grow operations are considered agricultural or non-residential properties for the purposes of assessment and taxation. As the taxation of farm buildings is being phased out over five years and a large component of the value of cannabis grow operations is attached to structures, it is important to ensure that municipalities are clearly enabled to assess and tax these properties at fair market value. In response to AUMA advocacy, Municipal Affairs has communicated that they are open to further discussing how to address this issue.
Determination of Shadow Populations
Elements of the Determination of Population Regulation remain an additional area of concern, particularly regarding the enumeration of shadow populations. As AUMA has strongly urged the province to address this issue throughout the nearly decade-long MGA process, the lack of changes in the finalized regulation is disappointing. Given the importance of shadow population enumeration in ensuring that population-based funding programs are equitably distributed, AUMA will continue to push for action on this matter.
Subdivision Referrals to Alberta Transportation
Unanticipated changes to the Subdivision and Development Regulation that will result in a large increase in subdivision application referrals to Alberta Transportation are a third priority issue in the finalized regulations. Previously, municipalities other than cities were required to refer subdivision applications to Transportation if they were for lands within 0.8km of a provincial highway, with an exemption for highways under 80km/h. Under the finalized regulation, the 80km/h exemption has been removed and the radius for mandatory referrals has been doubled to 1.6km. As many municipalities have communicated that the referral process has already been the source of delays in approvals under the previous rules, this change is very concerning.
AUMA will continue to raise the importance of finding solutions to these issues with Municipal Affairs. In order to best make the case for changes, members are encouraged to share their municipality’s experiences for use as examples. Specifically, AUMA is currently seeking information on the number of subdivision applications being sent to Alberta Transportation, any delays in this process, and associated impacts on your municipality.
Examples of how these issues are impacting your municipality and any other questions or comments on the finalized regulations can be sent to Jared Cathro at firstname.lastname@example.org.