Canalta Ponoka Hotel asks town council for tax break

Canalta Ponoka Hotel asks town council for tax break

Request leads to lengthy debate

A request from the Canalta Ponoka Hotel to have their property taxes reduced by 10 per cent led to a lengthy discussion on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during town council’s regular meeting held via Zoom on June 22.

The reduction would amount to $4,684.54 if approved.

“This is not normal. This is not regular times,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett.

“This is not a business that normally comes begging — they’re usually doing well this time of year.”

Administration advised council to vote against the tax reduction for a number of reasons. Council ultimately tabled the item for a later date.

The business inquired back in April about what tax relief options the town had in place. Later in May, when the town had approved its tax relief options, it notified Canalta, but they did not respond with an answer.

Administration also pointed out that the business debates its property assessment every year.

Coun. Kevin Ferguson questioned whether any other municipalities have granted any businesses with a 10 per cent tax reduction.

Coun. Ted Dillon, stated that the town had already assessed what was best for Ponoka, providing its two different tax relief options, so it didn’t matter what anybody else was doing.

Coun. Clayton Nelson agreed it was a waste of time and effort to look into it further when it wasn’t likely the town would approve the tax break anyway.

“We’ve done what we think is right for this community and I stand by that,” said Nelson.

“A little extra information never hurts,” Ferguson said in response.

Mayor Rick Bonnett expressed some frustration that the structure and stipulations of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) doesn’t allow municipalities to charge anyone over the base tax rate, if their business is doing extremely well or if their business is something council feels is unfit for the community, but only allows them to give tax breaks at their discretion.

“Again, we see through this COVID business that some businesses are doing very well and some businesses are devastated,” said Bonnett.

“We need more flexibility as municipalities to be able to do what we need to for our tax base and our citizens rather than worrying about what’s written in a book.”

Industries hit particularly hard are hotels, airlines, restaurants, transportation and tourism, he says.

“This is where the MGA, basically, takes all the power,” he said.

“We’ve got businesses that could pay up a lot more tax for some of these other businesses now that are devastated through no fault of their own.

“It’s not like they’ve gone bankrupt or they’ve done anything that’s caused a problem. They got shut down by the federal and provincial governments of this world and the public health limitations that they’ve thrown on us … this is where it really angers me.”

Bonnett went on to say that he feels the provincial and federal governments should be responsible for helping out businesses rather than municipalities, but the supports being offered aren’t enough.

“They don’t need a wage subsidy — they have no income. When you have no revenue, it doesn’t mean nothing,” he said.

“So I get our frustration and our need for our revenue, but you’ve got to look at this picture from this business’s side. They have absolutely nothing in every town that they’re dealing with.”

Ferguson brought up the issue of setting a precedent.

“That kind of scares me in a way, in terms of where do we go from there, and we’ve got programs already in place,” said Ferguson.

Coun. Teri Underhill suggested they look into making a plan for hotels, restaurants and other affected businesses, such as giving them a 10 per cent tax break on the condition that those businesses then give a 10 per cent donation to service groups in town that are losing out due to the cancellation of the Stampede.

The donation would then be a tax write-off for those businesses.

“I think we have a lot of thinking to do on this. I don’t think it can be a one-off, to be honest,” said Underhill.

“The reality is, our service groups are going to need money,” she said.

“To me, I hope we can find some kind of answer that helps everybody.”

General manager of corporate services Sandra Lund answered that it’s possible to do different tax rates for different classes of assessments, but special assessment rates have to be done across the board.

“My understanding is … you can’t pick and choose. I’d have to see which properties are in that class of assessment,” said Lund.

Lund added that adjusting tax rates would also mean the town’s budget would need to be adjusted, and it could result in the loss being spread out over the rest of the tax base, or the town needing to reduce services to compensate.

Bonnett says there are a number of things the town may need to look at for solutions that they normally wouldn’t feel comfortable with.

“We need to find some middle ground we can all live with,” he said.

A motion to table the item, to give council more time to consider the matter, and for administration to do some research, was carried.

ENMAX contract renewal

Council voted to renew the contract for regulated rate option services with ENMAX Energy Corporation for a one-year term.

Counsellors Sandra Lyon and Carla Prediger were absent for the meeting.

HotelsTown of Ponoka

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

Children and their families enjoy the light display at Centennial Park in 2019. (File photo)
Town anounces expanded light display and new Christmas Light Tour

The Town of Ponoka will flip the switch on an expanded Christmas… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the province surpasses one million COVID-19 tests Friday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

Most central Alberta communities under province’s enhanced measures list

file photo
Wetaskiwin, Maskwacis RCMP search warrant seize drugs; numerous charges laid

39-year-old Wetaskiwin man, Wayne Wiebe charged with 21 criminal code offences.

.
Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Central zone active cases slightly up

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

Ilaria Rubino is shown in this undated handout image at University of Alberta. Alberta researcher Rubino has developed technology allowing mostly salt to kill pathogens in COVID-19 droplets as they land on a mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta
Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Russ and Luanne Carl are sharing about their experiences of fighting COVID-19 this past summer. (Photo submitted)
Stettler couple opens up about COVID-19 battle

Luanne and Russ Carl urge others to bolster personal safety measures amidst ongoing pandemic

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read