Edmonton looking at property tax deferrals, Iveson says

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says the city is working with the province on a move to defer property taxes due to economic pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The city takes those looming bills very seriously and understands paying them will be a challenge,” Iveson said Wednesday at a news conference.

“We do hear the concerns of business in our community. Employers and entrepreneurs are under a tremendous amount of stress right now and we appreciate that.

“And while I can’t give you details or specifics at this time, I will say that the City of Edmonton is looking into deferrals of property tax collection for taxpayers and for ratepayers.”

Iveson said the city is working through details of a tax-deferral plan in co-ordination with the City of Calgary, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the provincial government.

No state of local emergency ‘at this time’

The city has decided not to declare a state of local emergency but could revisit that with one hour’s notice, the mayor said following Wednesday’s meeting of the emergency advisory committee.

“At this time it’s our belief the situation does not currently warrant such action on behalf of the city,” Iveson said.

“Our council at this point wants to save those extraordinary measures for truly extraordinary circumstances. These are already that … but they are covered by the provincial orders that are in place.”

Interim city manager Adam Laughlin said if city officials start to see retailers engage in price gouging, the city would be able to declare a state of local emergency and then step in to stop it.

The emergency advisory committee also heard discussions Wednesday about the decision to scale back Edmonton Transit buses and trains to Saturday service, which created problems for commuters on Tuesday. Transit service has since been bumped up on some routes.

The move to reduce to Saturday service was chosen because it “is commonly understood and easily found on our website,” Laughlin said.

He said transit ridership has fallen more than 50 per cent since March 8.

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