Residents of Cold Lake gathered at the regular council meeting on January 23 to express their apprehensions regarding the proposed Residential and Non-Residential Property Assessment Sub-Class bylaw. Many residents argued that any increase in costs would exacerbate existing issues within the community.
The focal point of the discussion was the city’s contemplation of a bylaw aimed at establishing distinct tax categories for vacant lands. This proposed approach would allow the council to implement varied tax rates to discourage the prolonged holding of undeveloped properties.
One of the voices heard during the hearing was resident Ray Gillis, who raised pertinent questions about the potential financial implications of additional sub-classes. Gillis stressed his concerns, stating, “I’ve done some research on this, and one of my concerns is having additional sub-classes that could cost the city more in the actual assessment each year, and I’m just here wondering what that additional cost would be.”
Gillis emphasized the potential impact on individuals purchasing vacant lots with the intent to retire in Cold Lake. He argued that imposing additional taxes on vacant properties might dissuade prospective retirees, thereby potentially impeding the city’s growth and development.
Ray Cowell, representing the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, echoed similar sentiments, expressing the Chamber’s opposition to the proposed vacant land tax bylaw. Cowell advocated for incentivizing over taxation, stating, “I don’t really believe there are solutions to problems, only trade-offs, and so when looking at the proposed bylaw, we looked at it from the chamber from an incentivize kind of perspective.”
Cowell argued that implementing an additional tax on vacant land could impede economic development, potentially stifling growth within the city. He urged the council to explore alternative strategies, such as offering incentives to developers, rather than burdening them with higher taxes.
In response to these concerns, councilor Bob Mattice assured residents that their voices were heard, and that the council would that their feedback into consideration. He affirmed the council’s commitment to collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce and the community to ensure the city’s continued prosperity.
The council will address this matter for discussion in the upcoming meeting, aiming to find a balanced solution that benefits all stakeholders involved.