Payments in Lieu of Property Taxes - Canada's Top Court Sides with Halifax Regional Municipality
In a decision released on June 15, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in HRM’s favour regarding the municipality’s long-standing position that Citadel Hill should make payments in lieu of property taxes in accordance with the hill’s assessed value.
The decision means a new determination will be made by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada on the value of the historic Citadel in consideration of the assessed value of the site.
“We are extremely pleased that the highest court in the country shares our view that payments in lieu of taxes should be based on a reasonable assessment of Citadel Hill, which occupies a vast parcel of prime land in the heart of our municipality,” said Mayor Peter Kelly. “We look forward to an appropriate determination of payment in lieu of taxes.”
Karen Leibovici, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), stated that "today's (June 15th) Supreme Court unanimous ruling on the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act (PILT Act) confirms the responsibility of the federal government to compensate municipalities fairly for federal properties within their communities. This ruling signals that the Government of Canada cannot arbitrarily set a value on its properties, and must pay their taxes like any property owner.
HRM maintains the Citadel property should make a payment in lieu of taxes based on a value of approximately $19 million, while the federal government had determined the value of the hill should be set at $1.55 million.
“This is a big win for our municipality and for every residential and commercial property owner in HRM who has been expected to pay taxes while Citadel Hill has paid an unreasonably low sum,” said Mayor Peter Kelly.
The Mayor is pleased that today’s decision speaks to the need for fair dealings with municipalities across the country, and agrees with the Supreme Court’s position that it is clearly unreasonable that 42 acres in the heart of downtown could have essentially no value for assessment purposes.
The Supreme Court decision also awards legal costs to the municipality which will be calculated and submitted for payment.
“The fact that our legal costs will be covered speaks volumes about the Supreme Court’s conviction in its decision,” said the Mayor.
The decision can be found at The Supreme Court of Canada.