Chelsea to appeal Federal Court decision in dispute with National Capital Commission
On February 21 during a special municipal council meeting, Chelsea adopted a resolution mandating its attorneys to appeal the decision of the Federal Court in the dispute with the National Capital Commission (NCC). The Federal Court recently ruled in favour of the NCC in the five-year dispute on unpaid Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). The Union of Quebec Municipalities, the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais and Gatineau are in support of the Municipality.
“We were surprised and disappointed by the decision made by the Federal Court last month. We find it hard to understand this judgement, which goes against the conclusion of the Advisory Committee on the Settlement of Disputes Associated with Payments in Lieu of Taxes,” said the Mayor of Chelsea, Pierre Guénard. “This loss of money directly affects citizens, their services and infrastructure. Meech Lake, the visitors’ centre, and other NCC attractions bring many visitors, which impacts roads and infrastructure.”
This issue started in 2018 and concerns the non-payment of approximately $1.4 million in PILT for land owned by the NCC located in Gatineau Park in Chelsea. Municipal taxes are not paid for federally owned land and, to compensate for this, the NCC paid PILT to the municipalities where the land is situated.
The disagreement stems from both organizations; the NCC and the Municipality of Chelsea valuated the crown land differently. MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, who does the evaluations, valued the land at $144 million, while the NCC valued it at $64 million. It should be noted that 60% of the territory of Chelsea is made up of land belonging to the NCC.
Guénard states that they are evaluating their land as conservation land, but there are areas that generate income and can be further developed, like the park, Meech Lake, the visitors’ centre.
The NCC recommended using the Federal Advisory Committee to solve the issue. They also wrote that they would respect the decision made by the committee. When the decision was not in their favour, siding with Chelsea, the NCC disagreed with the decision. They proposed they would pay approximately 50% of what was recommended in the Advisory Committee’s conclusions, which Chelsea rejected. If the municipality accepted the NCC’s proposal, it would lose approximately $800,000 annually, beginning in 2024.
"We also believe that this judgement sets a precedent and puts at risk all Canadian cities and municipalities that have federal lands on their territory and that could be deprived of essential property revenue to provide services to their citizens, including maintenance, road infrastructure", said Mayor Guénard.
The NCC was not able to comment in press time
Photo credit: Screenshot,
Photo caption: Special Chelsea city council meeting on February 21. From left to right: Rita Jain, District 5 councillor, Cybèle Wilson, District 3 councillor, Enrico Valente, district 1 councillor, Mayor Pierre Guénard, Kimberly Chan, district 6 councillor, Christopher Blais district 4 councillor, and Dominic Labrie, district 2 councillor.