Council To Discuss Property Tax Exemptions in Downtown, Helping Rural Businesses, and Anti-Racism Initiatives

Property taxes for businesses across the RMWB are taking centre stage at Wood Buffalo council’s upcoming meeting.

They meet virtually on Tuesday to discuss a tax exemption program for the downtown core in hopes of encouraging more economic activity in the area.

If approved, the motion would allow the municipality to reduce, exempt, or defer the collection of property taxes for non-residential properties for five years.

Administration notes this isn’t a final solution but rather one step to potentially help revitalize the area.

As for rural businesses, a motion is being presented to ask the government of Alberta to reduce their tax rate.

Commercial properties outside of Fort McMurray currently pay around 75 per cent of what industry pays in property taxes. For years, they were forced to pay the same amount, however, the RMWB recently created a tax sub-class to separate industry and rural businesses.

The motion asks the province to change the 75 per cent minimum to 50 per cent. This would result in commercial properties having to pay half of what oil companies do instead of three quarters.

Council will also be debating a motion aimed at ending racism across Wood Buffalo.

At their last meeting, Councillor Krista Balsom brought forward a three-part motion which focuses on receiving advice on anti-racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, introducing equality initiatives in the municipality and providing an update on the 2017-2022 Diversity and Inclusion Community Plan.

This motion comes a few weeks after Mayor Don Scott, Balsom, and other members of council promised change at a Black Lives Matter rally.

Meanwhile, the public is once again being encouraged to tune into the meeting online.

Anyone interested in speaking about a certain item on the agenda can email [email protected] their information to join the teleconference.

It gets underway at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

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