Big Lakes makes case for unpaid gas and oil taxes

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County is urging the provincial energy regulator (AER) to push oil and gas companies to pay outstanding property taxes.

At its Nov. 10 meeting, county council approved a briefing document on the topic it planned to present to the government at the Nov. 23 – 26 Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) conference.

The briefing comes as the province proposes Bill 77, which would provide more tools for addressing unpaid taxes. It is expected to come into force in January of 2022.

Big Lakes is owed $18.3 million by oil and gas companies, CAO Jordan Panasiuk told council.

The amendments proposed in Bill 77 would allow municipalities to place special liens on wells and pipelines on which taxes are owed; this is a practice that was stopped in 2019, after a court of appeals raised questions about how the previous legislation was written. The liens would also cover equipment.

Big Lakes would like the province to go even further. The county is requesting “stronger enforcement of unpaid taxes from a regulatory standpoint, through AER directives,” says the county’s briefing document.

The county is recommending that the government facilitate direct communication between municipalities and the energy regulator, and strengthen compliance and enforcement mechanisms, among other measures.

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