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Chelsea hits back at PILT

June 14th,2024 | News

The municipality of Chelsea is fighting back against a decision on a payments in lieu of taxes case against the NCC. The case is now heading to the Supreme Court. Photo: courtesy NCC

Chelsea is taking its fight against the National Capital Commission all the way to the Supreme Court. 

On May 6, the Federal Court of Appeal decided that the Crown corporation, which owns and operates Gatineau Park, does not owe the municipality $1.4 million in unpaid taxes. 

On June 4 the municipality announced that it would be seeking an appeal from the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court of Canada.

“This is a matter of fairness for Chelsea taxpayers. Our citizens must not bear the brunt of this Federal Court of Appeal decision and the NCC’s unfair treatment. We have every intention of seeing this through to the very end, to safeguard the rights of the municipality and its citizens,” Chelsea Mayor Pierre Guénard said in a recent statement. Since 2018, Chelsea has contended that the NCC is not paying its fair share of payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) on its properties located in Chelsea. 

In 2021, a federal advisory committee recommended that the NCC owed Chelsea $1.4 million, but the Crown corporation did not heed this recommendation, and a federal judge ruled the NCC is not bound by the advisory panel and can deviate from its conclusions if it believes they offend property tax principles. 

Chelsea appealed the judge’s ruling and ended up at the Federal Court of Appeal earlier this year. When the appeals court sided with the NCC on May 6, Mayor Guénard announced that he was “disappointed” with the decision and that council would be considering next steps. 

The amount that Chelsea says it is owed is based on property assessments conducted by the MRC des Collines. The NCC has only paid a portion of the amount it’s been billed for the last several years because it argues that the MRC’s property assessments do not take into account the fact that the NCC’s land is for conservation purposes and cannot be developed.  In 2023, Chelsea claimed that the NCC paid $900,000 less than the $1.7 million it was billed for. In a press release by the municipality on June 4, it said this shortfall “would amount to an annual property tax increase of $264 for the owner of a home of average value in Chelsea.”

“This case goes beyond Chelsea, as it affects all municipalities with federal properties in their jurisdiction,” Guénard said in a statement.  He added that the municipality takes partial responsibility for the two million visitors to Gatineau Park every year through road maintenance, traffic management and parking. 

“The impact on our citizens is immense,” the mayor asserted. “It’s time for the NCC to work with us fairly and respectfully and to treat us as partners.”

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