Over $130K owed to Pontiac - NCC land tax dispute spurs petition

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Added: Wed, 04/07/2021 - 2:59pm
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Mo Laidlaw

MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC – A group of Chelsea citizens have created a House of Commons e-petition (e-3264) urging Anita Anand, Public Services and Procurement minister, to respect the recommendation of her department’s Dispute Advisory Panel (DAP) and force the National Capital Commission (NCC) to pay the municipality of Chelsea $589,427 plus interest in tax arrears for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Pontiac MP Will Amos sponsored the petition which states, “The NCC is unfairly burdening the taxpayers of Chelsea, Gatineau and Pontiac with the cost of maintaining essential infrastructure serving NCC properties…The NCC is using
the DAP process to delay payments to the Municipality of Pontiac.”
Background
The MRC-des-Collines’ Property Assessment Service (PAS) carries out property evaluations in Pontiac, which determine municipal taxes. Every three years, the triennial evaluation roll of a third of the MRC is updated using market values at the midpoint of the preceding three years.
Gatineau Park is within the boundaries of Chelsea, Pontiac, La Pêche and Gatineau and is owned
by the National Capital Commission (NCC), a Crown corporation that falls under Anand’s portfolio but that operates at arm’s length from the Ministry. The NCC makes a “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILT) to the four municipalities. Any disagreements on the evaluation can be appealed to the DAP.
In 2018, Chelsea found out that the NCC did not pay the assessed increase in PILT for areas of Gatineau Park within the municipality. The PAS had changed the assessment of some areas like parking lots and camp sites from “conservation land”
to “recreational tourism”, which changed the way they are taxed. Chelsea took this dispute to the DAP, which ruled in its favour in February 2021. However, the NCC still hasn’t paid the back taxes, amounting to nearly $600,000.
The City of Gatineau is also in dispute with the NCC and the DAP sided with Gatineau in 2019. The NCC has so far ignored the DAP’s recommendation.
How is Pontiac affected?
Pontiac’s evaluation roll is re-assessed two years after Chelsea’s. Almost half (about 218 km2) of the municipality is within Gatineau Park. In November 2020, it became clear the NCC wasn’t going to pay the increased PILT, so council agreed to hire Paul Wayland of DHC Avocats to represent the municipality at the DAP in its dispute with the NCC, the same lawyer who represented Chelsea and Gatineau in their disputes.
Hearings before the DAP are unlikely to start for a year, and like Chelsea, it
may be three years before a decision is reached, said Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie. The NCC owes Pontiac $134,071, about 2% of their tax revenue, for
the year 2020.
“Throughout the pandemic, Pontiac has experienced a significant increase in visitors to Gatineau Park, leaving trash, parking illegally on rural roads and on
private property, and blocking access to farmers’ fields. It’s the taxpayers of Pontiac that must assume the costs of extra signage, increased grading and road maintenance, policing, and fire department search and
rescues. Pontiac residents shouldn’t be subsidizing the federal government, but the other way around,” Labadie told the Journal.  
Amos has been meeting with councillors, the NCC and other local MPs to try and resolve the matter. “The NCC should live up to its community responsibilities and respect the advice of the DAP,” he concluded,
clarifying that he doesn’t endorse the petition word for word but rather in general.