A recent decision of the Assessment Review Board
("ARB") (Waste Management of Canada Corporation v MPAC,
ID 138737 (ARB)) has concluded that the market value of the rights
associated with an Environmental Compliance Approval
("ECA") should be reflected in the current value of a
landfill for the purposes of property tax assessment.
Waste Management ("WM"), the owner of a 743 acre
landfill site located in the County of Lambton (the
"County"), was issued an ECA permitting the use and
operation of the landfill in 2011. WM argued that the ECA ought not
to be considered a component of the value of the land for
assessment purposes. Both the County and the Municipal Property
Assessment Corporation ("MPAC") disagreed, arguing that
With the consent of the County and MPAC, WM sought a
determination from the Assessment Review Board ("ARB") as
to whether the market value of the rights associated with the ECA
should be reflected in the current value of a landfill under the
The Assessment Act provides that land is assessed based on its
"current value" (s 19(1)), which is defined as "in
relation to land, the amount of money the fee simple, if
unencumbered, would realize if sold at arm's length by a
willing seller to a willing buyer" (s 1).
Where lands and premises have an
inherent capacity for a certain type of use and a licence from the
proper authorities authorizes the utilization of that capacity, the
value of the licence is a component part of the value of the land.
The licence is not property but a form of government control, like
zoning, which may enhance the value of the land for which it is
issued. Hence it is an element which has no separate quantifiable
value; but which should be taken into consideration in determining
The ARB concluded that similar to a nursing home licence, the
ECA is a form of government control that runs with the land and is
not an encumbrance upon it.
The WM landfill property, it found, has the inherent capacity
for a particular use, and the ECA provides it with the
authorization to utilize that capacity. An ECA may enhance the
value of the land, even though the ECA is potentially of no value
when the landfill is at the end of its lifespan.
The ARB examined jurisprudence dealing with the valuation of
waste disposal sites, largely from the US, and found that it
supported its position that any value that the ECA may add to the
land value ought to be included.
This is the first decision that we are aware of in Canada to
consider whether environmental permits such as an ECA have value
for the purposes of property tax assessment.
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