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New property tax rules for cannabis facilities
Commercial cannabis producers will soon have to pay property tax, giving municipalities a new source of revenue.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu announced the changes at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) fall convention Wednesday morning.
Beginning in 2020, cannabis facilities will be classified as non-agricultural businesses and will no longer qualify for a tax exemption.
"This is a new industry and it requires a change in tax rules that recognize that you, Alberta's rural municipalities, provide the essential local services industry relies on," Madu said.
"Cannabis production facilities are large industrial operations and like any other local businesses, they need to pay for municipal services that they use. Beginning next year, you will be able to collect taxes on these properties."
The government did not say how much additional revenue this will generate. Municipal assessors will be responsible for market-value assessments.
"We’ve been asking the government to put cannabis-production facilities on equal footing with other industrial businesses since legalization," RMA president Al Kemmere said in a written release. "I’m glad the government listened to our concerns and acted swiftly.”
Joe Ceci, the opposition NDP's municipal affairs critic, said Madu's announcement was a "really good thing," but not far-reaching enough.
"There are just 24 facilities around the province and there's many, many more counties and districts that won't be able to have that advantage of taxation," he said.
He also fired criticism at the UCP government's budget released last month, saying it was downloading more costs onto rural municipalities.
"They're putting a few things in the window…but they're taking away so much more that they don't want people to take a look at," said Ceci.
The fall convention and annual general meeting continues through Friday, Nov. 15 at the Edmonton Convention Centre.
Elected leaders and staff from Alberta's 69 counties and municipal districts will also discuss rural crime and broadband internet access.
Premier Jason Kenney is scheduled to speak at the convention on Friday.