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FINANCE - Taxation - Real or immovable property assessment

Friday, March 20, 2020 @ 9:58 AM  

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Appeal by three commercial property owners from a chambers judge’s decision setting aside the City of Edmonton Assessment Review Board’s decision excluding evidence from the appellants’ assessment appeals. In 2016, the appellants received municipal tax assessments. In response to the appellants’ request under s. 299(1) of the Municipal Government Act for production of information showing how the assessor prepared the assessments, the City provided some supporting information but did not disclose studies that relied on comparator information from properties owned by third parties used by the assessor. The City disclosed the studies 14 days before the hearing before the Review Board. The Review Board excluded the studies from evidence and determined they could not be relied on by the City to support the assessed values. The chambers judge set aside the Review Board’s decision as unreasonable.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The decision of the Review Board was restored. The Review Board’s decision should have been reviewed on the standard of correctness because the matter proceeded by way of statutory appeal and engaged questions of law concerning statutory interpretation. Stare decisis bound both the Review Board and the chambers judge to a broad reading of s. 299 provided in Canadian National Resources Limited v. Wood Buffalo (Regional Municipality) (CNRL). The chambers judge erred in concluding she did not have to apply the principles expressed in CNRL. Late disclosure of the studies could not replace full disclosure made early enough so that the appellants could assess their likely chance of success on appeal. The chambers judge was incorrect in concluding the Review Board’s decision was unreasonable and therefore implicitly incorrect.

Edmonton (City) v. Edmonton (City) Assessment Review Board, [2020] A.J. No. 164, Alberta Court of Appeal, M.B. Bielby, B.L. Veldhuis and J. Strekaf JJ.A., February 7, 2020. Digest No. TLD-March162020010