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New Brunswick requests judicial review of Saint John Port Authority’s ‘decision’ to not pay taxes

The parcel of land that is central to the dispute between the province of New Brunswick and the Saint John Port Authority.
The parcel of land that is central to the dispute between the province of New Brunswick and the Saint John Port Authority. SNB Property Assessment Online

The provincial government is taking the Saint John Port Authority to federal court over what it claims is the port’s “decision” to not pay taxes on a parcel of land owned by the authority.

An application for a judicial review filed with the Federal Court of Canada in Fredericton and dated July 27 details the dispute.

New Brunswick is asking for the judge to quash and set aside the decision of the port authority to “not make payment” under the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Act for the 2020 taxation year on one of the five property accounts it owns.

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The dispute is not over the land owned by the port authority but is instead related to the federal waters that encompass the area next to the port’s cruise and cargo terminals.

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According to Service New Brunswick’s Property Assessment tool, the parcel faces a tax assessment of $1,771,700.

The government alleges that port authority did not provide any reasoning for its decision not to pay.

“However, by refusing payment, it appears that the (port authority) has determined that the disputed land did not qualify as ‘federal property’ as defined by the PILT Act and/or is exempted from PILT payments,” the application reads.

The dispute dates back to 2019, when the province did not receive PILT payment on the piece of land.

However, in that case, the province applied to the PILT dispute advisory panel for a resolution.

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But the panel told the province that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the dispute and instead directed it to apply to the federal court for a resolution.

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The application for judicial review is the result of that direction.

The Saint John Port Authority told Global News it did not have further comment.