Changes to The Local Improvement Act
Therefore be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association urge the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to remove the clause entirely as it relates to railway companies so that they are required to pay the same rate as all other property owners benefiting from the local improvement.
Response: Compared with the sponsor of this resolution, the Ministry and the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) have a different understanding of the SMBâ€™s Local Government Committee (LGC) process regarding this matter. I am advised the LGC does not require a signed agreement between municipalities and railway companies prior to approving a local improvement application. The legislation is discretionary and says a council â€œmay enter an agreement:. It is intended to provide some flexibility where certain properties may not benefit as much as others from a local improvement. When the SMB is reviewing an application, its LGC considers the overall financial arrangements, including the impact of any statutory and/or discretionary exemptions and reductions, and whether all properties that will benefit from the improvement have been assessed with respect to local improvement. The provisions under section 26 of The Local Improvement Act allow the railway land owner and council of a municipality to enter into an agreement for a reduction of up to 50% of the full amount of the special assessment. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can apply to the LGC for adjudication. The reduction can have a significant effect on a projectâ€™s financing if a municipality did not consider it when the application was initially developed. Depending on how the municipality allocates the costs between the affected property owners and the municipally, a change my impact the remaining benefiting owner and/or the municipality at large. If it appears a municipality did not take all factors into consideration in its financial analysis, the LGC asks the municipality to re-evaluate the projectâ€™s financing. Municipal Affairs is prepared to consider changes to these provisions the next time the Act is opened for amendments and will follow its standard process for analysis and consultation. However, entirely removing this flexibility from the Act may not be the best choice. Marking legislative amendments is a through and extensive process. Legislative proposals are considered for each session in the context of governmentâ€™s overall priorities.