MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges addressing inequities in pipeline taxation
PHOTO COURTESY MRC VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES
The MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges is planning to submit a report to the Ministère des Aff aires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMOT) and request a modifi cation of the taxation law to address the inequity of decreased taxation revenues on land through which pipelines pass.
During its April 29 monthly meeting, the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRCVS) issued a study titled ‘Pipeline et fiscalité: une iniquité à corriger’ on the impact of pipelines on the regional municipalities’ taxation income. Of all regions in Quebec, Vaudreuil-Soulanges has the highest number of pipelines running through the region. At present, there are four pipelines (the Enbridge, TQM, Trans-Northern and Trans-Canada pipelines) on the territory with the planned Énergie Est Pipeline making it five. Although the full report has not been made available to the public yet, the MRC has issued a press release revealing the underlying inequity of current taxation laws when it comes to these conduits.
Pipelines in Quebec benefit from an advantageous regressive taxation system, which means they are not treated as regular real estate for taxation purposes. While real estate properties gain value, pipelines are devalued over time, which translates into decreasing property tax revenues for the municipalities from pipeline operators over the years. Pipelines also prevent any other construction within its easement when located in an urbanization perimeter, which deprives municipalities from the much higher taxation revenues that can be gained from other real estate properties. The MRC has qualified this situation as inequitable for taxpayers who have to pay much higher property taxes than pipeline operators.
The MRC plans to submit its report to the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMOT) and request a modification of the taxation law to address this inequity.
“We have seen the taxation reports from those companies on our territories and we were able to observe the inequity. The study has confirmed our expectations regarding that inequity,” said Simon Richard, Communications Advisor with the MRC. “Under the present context of budgetary compression where all residents are asked to tighten their belts and where municipalities are being transferred more and more responsibilities, what is important is that pipelines should pay their fair share given that property taxes are the only means of revenues for the municipalities,” Richard added.
Even though the full report has not yet been made available to the public, the MRC has provided some numbers backing up its claim, namely regarding Pointe-Fortune and Vaudreuil-Dorion. For the first year of existence (of the Énergie Est Pipeline), in Pointe- Fortune, where the pipeline will go through the urbanization perimeter over 2 kilometers, there will be a $7000 benefit compared to residential housing, but the situation turns negative over the years, as the pipeline devalues.
Under the present taxation system, the pipeline will incur an $111,416 loss of taxation revenues over a period of 40 years for the small municipality. “If Pointe-Fortune intends to develop its urbanization perimeter for economic growth, once the pipeline goes through the urbanization perimeter or sector targeted for growth, not only will the pipeline company pay less property taxes, but the pipeline will also prevent the construction of anything else within its easement,” Richard pointed out.
For a more urbanized and commercial area, the MRC points to Vaudreuil-Dorion as an example, using the natural gas pipeline presently running through one of its commercial areas with a non-residential property taxation rate. For only two lots in that zone, the municipality will suffer an annual loss of $67,063 in taxation revenues, which amounts to $4,158,916 over the next 40 years. At this point, the MRC has no other plans for recuperating those lost revenues beyond a possible modification of the existing taxation law by the MAMOT.
According to Richard, the MAMOT has already set a precedent in the past with the introduction of amendments, which included adjustments to the provisions regarding the impositions of duties for quarry and sand pit operators that resulted in a marked improvement of compensations received from operators of quarries and sand pits on the Vaudreuil-Soulanges territory. To see a map of all the pipelines running through the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, consult www.yourlocaljournal.ca or our Facebook page.