Madam Justice J.M. Ross of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton has allowed an appeal of a property tax assessment decision involving farm land. She granted leave to appeal to the Applicant, Associated Developers (AD), from a 2010 decision of the Composite Assessment Review Board (CARB) assessing AD's land as industrial property rather than as farm land. Justice Ross then heard the appeal, overturned the decision of the CARB and sent the case back to the Board for re-determination.
The Property in question, located in Edmonton, was assessed as industrial property at a value of $6,723,500 in the 2010 assessment year for the 2009 taxation year. The relevant valuation period for the 2010 assessment was therefore 2009. Had the Property been assessed as farm land, the assessed value would have been $863,000. The Applicant complained to the CARB, asserting that the property should have been assessed as farm land. The Applicant had filed with the CARB annual leases between AD and a farmer for the years 1999-2010. The leases included terms that the lands would be used solely for agricultural purposes.
The City of Edmonton (arguing for the industrial land assessment) argued that the crop of hay on the property had not been harvested in 2009. The City's position was that if the crop was not cut, it could not be said to have been produced and, therefore, was not used for farming operations and could not be classified as farm land. AD argued in response that the land could still be farm land even if not hayed in 2009, as there are many circumstances in which people leave land idle for a year for a variety of sound agricultural reasons.
Justice Ross allowed the appeal because the CARB failed to provide adequate reasons for its decision and failed to identify the appropriate legal tests in its reasons. These were breaches of the principles of natural justice and the duty to be fair. She cancelled the decision and sent the matter back to the CARB to be re-heard.
Read the decision at: Associated Developers Ltd. v. Edmonton (City).