By Allen Best
CANMORE, B.C. – Second-home owners in Canmore are going to be taxed at a higher rate. The increased tax also applies to primary residents who have homes they don’t live in.
City leaders in Canmore justify the targeted property tax as necessary to provide increased revenues, but also to allow it to continue as a functioning town. “We have 15 years — I wish it was longer than it is — to really turn this around and get this house in order so we can still have regular, normal working people living in this community,” Mayor Ron Casey told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
This new tax is expected to yield an extra $1.3 million for Canmore for a total budget of $28.26 million.
A former coal-mining town, Canmore lies at the eastern gateway to Banff National Park. Of the population of 11,549 people, some 4,818 are non-permanent. The permanent population is static, while the non-permanent population, second-home owners, continues to rapidly climb.
The part-timers will be hit with an average of $420 more in taxes than the full-time residents. The full-timers, however, will have to prove their year-round residency. Also subjected to the higher tax are permanent residents who have second homes within the community for rental properties.
The Outlook reports criticism of the tax hike targeted at part-timers. Susan Barry, executive director of the Urban Development Institute, said the council had again failed to consult those who are affected.
Chris Ollenberger, president of the Three Sisters Mountain Village, a real-estate development that aims for the part-timers, similarly expressed “surprise” at the lack of public notice or consultation. A future envisioning process “talked extensively about inclusivity of the non-permanent resident and cohesiveness of the community,” he noted. He warned against alienating the non-permanent resident population.
But John Stutz, the mayor of Banff, located 15 miles away, said he found Canmore’s move “very, very interesting,” and applauded it. Banff, like Canmore, has struggled to find alternative sources of revenue.
Canmore is the first municipality in Alberta to impose such a measure, although there seems to be precedents in British Columbia and Manitoba.
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