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June 21, 2019
(Medicine Hat)The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce is encouraged with the proposal of Bill 7 – The Municipal Government (Property Tax Incentives) Amendment Act. If passed, this legislation will give municipalities the power to offer stronger property tax incentives to business and industry.
Since 2014, the chamber has encouraged the municipal government to consider competitive incentive plans in order to diversify our industry base and attract employers who offer skilled labour or professional positions in our policy: Creating a Strong and Diverse Local Economy. Within our recommendations we suggest that property tax rebates based on the value of the new property and/or the increased value due to an expansion or upgrade be considered. This recommendation would now be possible as Bill 7 would allow each municipality to decide if, and how, to implement tax incentives by passing a single bylaw that would offer incentives to reduce, exempt or defer the collection of property taxes for non-residential properties for up to 15 years, with the option of renewal. In addition it also establishes an eligibility criteria and application process to streamline tax incentive offers, instead of requiring a separate council resolution or bylaw for each property.
‘A key driver of a consistently high standard of living is an economy diverse enough to weather weakness in one sector by enjoying strength in others,’ stated Sarah MacKenzie, President of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. ‘By empowering municipalities to offer multi-year tax incentives, Medicine Hat and surrounding district, will be able to offer a competitive and desirable location to diverse businesses to set-up their operations.’
If passed Bill 7 would provide one of the longest municipal tax incentive timelines in North America. Similar tax incentives are available in neighbouring provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and in states to the south of us, like Louisiana and Texas.  
‘Recent economic activity in our area proves that economic incentives work in attracting new and emerging industries to our region. By giving municipalities the tools to encourage growth and revitalization in communities, the provincial government has listened to and heeded our recommendations,’ commented MacKenzie. ‘As competition grows among jurisdictions and companies are searching for locations for their businesses, this piece of legislation allows our region to position itself as a community of choice.’
In addition to recommending property tax rebates, the chamber also recommends incentives including, but not limited to, discounted utility rates, dedicated bus routes for employers with large workforces, partial rebates on land purchases based on minimum construction and long term job commitments, workforce development through recruitment trips, hiring events and skills training and flexible plans for businesses seeking to make large economic commitments to relocate or expand. The policy is also aware of how incentive policies can impact competition and existing businesses so has suggested that an incentive plan must be developed for new and existing businesses with eligibility requirements. Eligibility requirements may consider the type of industry the region is trying to attract, the type of employment positions created (skilled, semi-skilled), the number of full-time equivalent positions that will be created, minimum investments for plant, land, and/or leasehold improvements, financial backing to complete projects, review of business plans, ownership or leasehold agreements, in addition to others in order to provide some certainty for investment and sustainability.
‘To be competitive in efforts to attract and expand industries, regions must consider the factors affecting these major decisions made by businesses. Feedback from existing and potential business to our area has frequently focused on availability of labour, appropriate land, development processes and start-up costs. ’ MacKenzie concluded by stating ‘Legislation that allows municipalities to expand its economic incentive tool box in order to attract businesses to our region is, ultimately, beneficial to all residents. By providing employment opportunities and increasing economic activity in Medicine Hat, we become a vibrant community of choice where our quality of life stems from a strong and local diverse economy.’
Please direct all media inquiries to:
Sarah MacKenzie, 2018-2019 President
Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce
(403) 527-5214 ext.221

The Chamber of Commerce is a member-driven, volunteer-led organization, proudly representing the interests of businesses in our region, and working diligently to stimulate a strengthened and vibrant economy through our connections, support and influence. For more than 115 years, the Chamber has stood for promoting business, monitoring government and championing managed growth in the local economy. The Chamber represents over 800 businesses in our region and is aligned with both the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), which represents over 25,000 businesses and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce (CCC), which represents over 200,000 businesses. With the largest and most influential business organizations locally, provincially and federally, the Chamber network is the most unified, valued and influential business network in Canada and works together to shape policy and programs that will make a difference to businesses in our region.