The City of Cold Lake has submitted its federal agreements to the Government of Alberta, aiming to highlight the challenges municipalities face in supporting federal initiatives without adequate assistance.
Mayor Craig Copeland underscored the importance of this initiative, stating, “We hope that this is an opportunity for the province to learn just to what extent municipalities are called on to facilitate programs and services which support federal initiatives and benefit federal organizations,” said Mayor Copeland. “We also hope it sheds light on just how little help we receive to do so.”
Central to Cold Lake’s concerns is the prolonged Payment in Lieu of Taxes dispute, which has reportedly placed significant strain on the city’s finances since 2012. Despite a favorable court decision, the federal government has yet to fulfill nearly $4 million in PILT for the Education Tax Requisition owed to Cold Lake.
“It’s very disheartening to see the lengths to which the federal government will go to get away with not following the rules they made for themselves,” Copeland said. “When large cities put pressure on the feds for extra funding, they tend to be heard. But us out here in small communities, we can’t even seem to get what the federal governments own legislation says they are supposed to give us.”
The dispute centers on the assessment valuations of CFB Cold Lake, with the city arguing that the federal government has consistently underpaid its PILT obligations. This has forced Cold Lake to raise property taxes by about five percent to cover the shortfall in payments.
Considering these challenges, Mayor Copeland called for provincial support in resolving disputes and ensuring fair treatment for small communities. He emphasized the need for a unified voice to advocate for the interests of municipalities across Alberta, particularly those facing significant financial strain due to federal disputes.
“When it seems like large communities get what they ask for and small communities are virtually forgotten, it may be time for the province to step in,” Copeland said.