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Tax rates not seen as development driver

Residential growth in the MD of Bonnyville has more to do with the lifestyle offered with a larger lot than it does with a relatively low tax bill, says MD Reeve Ed Rondeau.

Residential growth in the MD of Bonnyville has more to do with the lifestyle offered with a larger lot than it does with a relatively low tax bill, says MD Reeve Ed Rondeau.

That contention is supported by two local realtors, who say their clients ask about taxes, but don't generally make the decision on where they live based on lower tax rates in the MD.

“Generally people don't pick a residence, or a place where they want to live, based on the taxes only,” Rondeau said.

“I think they're looking for a rural lifestyle versus an urban lifestyle.”

Cold Lake residents and business people worried out loud at a meeting earlier this month in Cold Lake that lower tax rates in the MD would siphon development from the city into the MD, further undermining Cold Lake's tax base.

Realtor Gerry Storoschuk, a broker with Northern Lights Realty in Bonnyville and Cold Lake, said there are several factors that have led to increased building in the MD, including better lot availability in new subdivisions, and lower development costs for developers building those new subdivisions.

“The number of residential lots in town is very limited, where if you go in the country in the country residential subdivisions, you have a great choice,” said Storoschuk, who happens to know a few things about tax policy as well, as a former Bonnyville mayor.

While real estate clients ask about tax bills in town and in the MD, Storoschuk said he doesn't see the difference between a bill in town or in the MD as a deal breaker with his clients.

“I don't believe it's a driver to get people to live in the country,” he said.

“They do ask about taxes, but I don't think it's a driver that changes somebody's mind whether they buy in the town or the MD. I believe more so that it's lifestyle than anything else.”

Fellow real estate broker Maurice Rivard agreed, adding that the lifestyle factor seems to drive people in the Lakeland to rural lots.

“A lot of people have quads and snowmobiles and fifth-wheels and trailers and these kind of things, the toys they need to store, and I think that's why a lot of people are going to acreages versus the town,” said Rivard.

“It's mostly for their lifestyle.”

Even with industrial properties, the tax rate isn't necessarily a big influence for businesses looking for a home, said Rivard, who sells for Re/Max in Bonnyville.

“They may get a bigger lot for their buck than they do in town,” he said, adding that size, availability and price are all factors that are considered in addition to lower tax bills in the MD.