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Property tax relief for northeast Calgary residents affected by June hailstorm

Residents of northeast Calgary devastated by a June hailstorm will get property tax relief extending to the end of 2021.

Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal brought forth the motion during the third day of Calgary’s Combined Meeting of Council. In it, Chahal asked that residents in the affected areas that have not yet paid their 2020 property taxes could apply for a deferral – without penalty – to December 2021.

The devastating storm hit the northeast and parts of southeast Calgary, causing more than $1.4 billion in insured losses. There have been more than 70,000 insurance claims. It’s the fourth costliest natural disaster on record.

Area residents have had ongoing trouble with insurance claims, having work completed and closing up homes in time for winter. A struggling economy and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been an anchor holding the community rebuild back.

Residents in the area even staged a convoy to the Alberta Legislature to lodge their concerns.

Chahal said 50 per cent of insurance claims have been closed, with the remaining cases still being processed.

“There are many residents that are facing delays and other vulnerabilities out of their control. That’s who we’re targeting with this notice of motion,” Chahal said.

“I hear stories every day on the challenges that individuals are facing with windows that are still broken as winter’s coming and have not been repaired as insurance claims have not been processed and closed.”

Slippery slope when there’s hardship across the city: Sutherland

Coun. Ward Sutherland acknowledged the trouble that residents in northeast Calgary were facing.

He said, though, that with the economy and COVID, people across the city are suffering.

“My concern is this is really a slippery slope of getting into an area that really the province should be taking care of,” he said.

“I have a very difficult time separating what issues are more important than another issue with another resident in order to create these programs.”

Roughly 2,200 homes in northeast Calgary are estimated to be eligible for this deferral program, city administration said. The outstanding tax balance is roughly $5.5 million, with current penalties at $192,000.  Financing costs of that amount until the end of 2021 would be between $138,000 and $140,000.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that the situation “sucks, and I don’t like it.”

“But at the same time we need to be able to do something,” he said.

He reminded councillors that, yes, others in Calgary are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment, but that residents in northeast Calgary are also dealing with this hailstorm. That, and they have been hit the hardest by COVID-19.

“And here we are arguing about $135,000 in carrying costs, which is the tiniest, tiniest gesture that we can make for these folks,” he said.

The city will design an intake process for northeast Calgary residents for entry into the compassionate tax relief program.