Amendments to the Municipal Government Act and the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter introduced today, May 5, will give municipalities flexibility in managing commercial property taxes to help encourage economic development.
“Municipalities have asked us for more tax authority and economic development tools,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill. “These amendments will enable municipalities to encourage commercial development where it’s best for the community and avoid businesses facing immediate increases in their property taxes.”
Businesses sometimes often face significant increases in their assessed property values. With this legislation, a municipality will be able to phase in these increases over up to 10 years for businesses in a designated commercial development district.
This will help municipalities encourage businesses to locate in areas that benefit the community, such as main streets. It will also encourage businesses to invest in their properties, knowing that they will have some time to adjust to related tax increases.
“Economic development is vital for the health and sustainability of our municipalities,” said Cecil Clarke, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality and president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. “The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities recognizes the value of enabling municipalities to phase in increases in commercial assessments as a means to encourage business investment.”
If a municipality chooses to designate a district, it must be in an area that receives urban municipal services, such as water and sewer. It must also be included in the municipality’s planning strategy.