Section 293 Exemption Review

Res #: 9-22A
Number: 9
Year: 2022
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations

WHEREAS section 293 of the Municipalities Act exempts certain properties in a rural municipality which includes unoccupied buildings that are residential in nature and a dwelling that is occupied by an owner
or a lessee of land in the rural municipality or any adjoining municipality to the extent of the amount of the dwelling;
WHEREAS having unoccupied residential dwellings being exempt from taxation gives no incentives for owners to clean-up any vacant or unoccupied buildings creating a breeding ground for rodents;
WHEREAS municipal offices spend numerous hours applying for the section 293 exemption every 4 years as the exemption gets ‘cleared-out’ during revaluation years, only to have millions of dollars in exemptions
for the municipality and the school division; and
WHEREAS there are no clear definitions in the Municipalities Act which allows for numerous interpretation and abuse of the exemption, creating a free rider problem.
BE IT RESOLVED SARM lobby the provincial government to do a review of section 293 of the Municipalities Act consisting of key stakeholders, which includes the RMAA, SAMA & SARM, to identify the issues section 293 has created for rural municipalities and determine a solution.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations

September 29, 2022

  • The Ministry of Government Relations is open to hearing proposals for ensuring that agricultural tax exemptions are fair and equitable across the province. 
  • Section 293 of The Municipalities Act contains some longstanding exemptions for a variety of properties that apply only to rural municipalities. These include greenhouses, agricultural operations and the buildings used in connection with these operations, and as the resolution background notes unoccupied residential buildings and farm dwellings in certain situations. A review of these provisions may need to consider whether the same rules of assessment and taxation should be applied to some or all of these types of properties regardless of location or the type of municipality in which they are situated. 
  • In addition, if this section is reviewed, the views of all stakeholders would need to be considered. This would include discussion with municipal associations as well as agricultural, commercial and residential stakeholders, who may suggest removing these exemptions altogether. 
  • Municipal councils currently have the authority to develop policy around the application of exemptions within their municipality and to exempt or abate a portion or all of a ratepayer’s municipal taxes. Municipalities are encouraged to use the tools at their disposal to address local circumstances. At the same time, the ministry is interested in hearing suggestions for specific wording or changes that may improve the legislation for consideration the next time legislation is open for amendment. 

The Honourable Don McMorris – Minister of Government Relations, Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations