Mountain News 

Vacation home tax causing heartburn

By Allen Best

CANMORE, Alberta – Some heartburn is apparent in Canmore after the municipal council there passed a property tax increase targeted at second-home owners. About a third of Canmore’s residences are occupied part-time by out-of-towners, many of them from Calgary, located about an hour to the east.

The council argues that it needs the money, because the provincial government does not include the impact of part-timers when it doles out money to municipalities.

“Shame on you!” responded one part-timer, Peter Bauer of Calgary. In a letter published in the Rocky Mountain Outlook, he complained that he uses minimal services, just one bag of garbage per month in the trash bin, for example. “Too bad that weekenders don’t get to vote,” he said.

The tax is also opposed by at least one local resident, Gary Olauson, who sees the tax as an easy answer by the municipal council for solving the city’s financial crisis. The crisis, he argues, was created by a tendency of both present and past councils to spend more money than they had.

But Olauson also detects a new and growing resentment of the part-timers. “A lot of people are happy about this because it is a way to get back at the rich weekenders with their big SUVs,” said Olauson.

Locals, says Olauson, should appreciate the money spent by weekenders and vacation-home owners. “They go out to eat, they buy furniture and art, they hire local contractors and trades, they attend plays and sporting events. They are as much a part of this community as we are, and they deserve to be treated equally and fairly.”


LEED certification worth cost?

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – The school board in Steamboat Springs wants a new elementary school to be energy efficient and in other ways “green,” and it has nearly $30 million to work with. But to get the school certified as a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building would cost an additional $500,000, and the school district is unsure it’s worth it, reports the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

“Many school districts are trying to direct their design teams to do the best they can, and use the LEED rating system as a guideline and look for those strategies that really add value to the project …” said Michael Holtz of Architecture Energy Corp.


Canmore adopts sustainability matrix

CANMORE, Alberta – Last November city officials in Canmore adopted a sustainability screening matrix for evaluating whether proposed real-estate developments are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable for the community. Now, the regulations are being applied for the first time, to a major project called Three Sisters Mountain Village.

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