Edmonton Takes Bold Step to Combat Problem Properties and Boost Community Vibrancy with Stringent Taxation Measures
EDMONTON – POLITICS – In a decisive move to tackle the growing issue of derelict properties, the City of Edmonton has introduced a stringent tax subclass that will directly impact owners of neglected properties, including those abandoned during demolition or construction processes. This innovative approach is part of a comprehensive strategy aimed at curbing the proliferation of problem properties and fostering a more vibrant community atmosphere.
This move by Edmonton gives the City great ability to make a difference over properties that the owners decide to either allow to deteriorate or abandon.
Starting from January 2024, properties within designated “mature residential areas” deemed derelict as of December 31 will be subject to the new subclass. Preliminary visual inspections of residential properties have already been carried out, with assessors set to conduct secondary inspections in December based on the physical condition of the properties. The city will initiate a communication campaign in the fall to inform property owners and the public about the implications of this new tax subclass. Letters explaining the subclass and potential tax consequences will be sent to owners of properties identified as potentially derelict.
This proactive approach stems from the City of Edmonton’s endeavour in 2022 to address derelict buildings and rundown homes. City officials and staff were tasked with devising a tax subclass tailored for deteriorating properties and exploring modifications to existing bylaws to effectively target these structures. The definition of the subclass was slightly modified to include properties abandoned during construction or demolition processes. As of the end of August, 274 properties have been identified as derelict, necessitating swift action.
Under this new subclass, a “derelict residential” property is characterized as a dwelling displaying severe signs of neglect, significant disrepair, or inhabitable conditions. This definition encompasses properties abandoned during the construction or demolition phases. To ensure consistency and legal clarity, these properties will fall within a proposed geographic area known as the mature neighbourhoods overlay, with some modifications made for unambiguous definition.
Permanent Funding Assures Success
Edmonton’s initiative received a significant boost in December 2022 when the problem properties initiative was granted permanent funding. This long-term strategy, aimed at addressing properties causing frequent and serious safety concerns, is a collaborative effort involving partners such as Alberta Health Services, the Government of Alberta, and the Edmonton Police Service. T
he tax subclass for derelict properties is a direct outcome of this initiative, although not all problem properties will qualify as derelict and vice versa.
Addressing concerns raised by some community members, the city administration emphasized that the increased taxes are just one facet of a broader effort to combat problem properties. The tax subclass acts as a crucial tool to mitigate the negative impact of derelict properties, which often impose additional costs on the city. Cate Watt, Branch Manager of Assessment and Taxation, expressed hope that the higher tax rates would encourage property owners to rehabilitate derelict houses, ultimately contributing to the long-term vibrancy of mature neighborhoods.
According to a report by city staff, the 274 potentially derelict properties were levied a total of $699,151 in municipal taxes in 2023, underscoring the financial significance of this new tax subclass in funding necessary improvements and fostering a safer, more vibrant Edmonton.