For the past eight years, the Municipality of Meaford has been fighting to receive payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) from the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre, and this week staff announced that a settlement has been reached that will net the municipality $1.6 million.
“Since 2013, Meaford has made appeals to the Payment In Lieu of Taxes Dispute Advisory Panel relating to underpaid taxes from 2013 to 2020 through Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) annual request for tax payment at the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre,” Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman advised Council in a report presented at their May 31 meeting. “A Dispute Advisory Panel hearing began on April 12, 2021, with Meaford calling four witnesses over a four-day period. On April 18, 2021, a settlement offer was developed that was acceptable to both Meaford and PSPC. The settlement offer includes a $2.035M payment net of legal and consulting fees resulting from 2013-2020 tax adjustments which is shared between Meaford ($1.66M) and Grey County ($370K).”
Chapman told Council that, “Since 2013, Meaford has updated the original PILT appeal on an annual basis since PSPC has consistently underpaid the tax requisition as provided by municipal staff up to and including the 2020 taxation year.”
Although operated by the Department of National Defense (DND), it is PSPC’s responsibility to determine PILT payments and remit these payments to the affected municipal jurisdiction.
After significant discussion, Council approved allocating $500,000 toward a future purchase of an aerial fire truck, $100,000 to fund the upcoming Safety and Well-being Plan implementations, and $125,000 for development of public parking on the former Smith’s Tire property on Nelson Street, with the remaining $940,000 to be held in the working capital reserve fund.
Chapman told Council in his report that while the final terms of the agreement can’t be shared due to a nondisclosure agreement, the Municipality has also identified potential environmental concerns on the Tank Range.
“There were non-financial issues specific to potentially significant environmental matters raised throughout the hearing and subsequent settlement negotiation that staff feel Council and the public at large need to be made aware of,” Chapman advised.
According to the staff report presented to Council, “The Department of National Defence (DND) classifies a large portion of the 19,008 acre training centre as ‘unusable’ due to the nature of the land use and historical/current contamination.”
Chapman noted that, “DND advised that there is a large portion of lands generally in the middle of the training centre that is fenced off and is not accessed by military personnel for troop or ground training. These areas are known as the Dud Producing, Non Dud Producing and White Phosphorus (WP) Approved areas which account for 6,435 acres as illustrated in Appendix 1 in relation to the total lands and further in Appendix 2 in greater detail. Also referred to as the ‘Impact Area’, is still actively used for firing of “all ammunition within the current CAF inventory that does not produce duds or Un-Exploded Ordinances (UXOs)”. DND and PSPC disclosed through the hearing documentation provided that these lands have significant contamination.”
Moreover, DND advised that, “At no point and for no reason do vehicles or personnel enter this portion of the training area due to the UXO hazard. This area has been used as a dud producing area since the early 1940s and is extremely contaminated with UXOs of all various types and natures that have been used in the CAF munitions inventory for over 80 years.”
Chapman suggested to Council that the municipality and its residents deserve to be provided with more information about the potential contamination.
Council approved a staff recommendation that directs Mayor Barb Clumpus to send “a letter to the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, the Minster of Environment & Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff requiring full disclose to the public regarding contamination on the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre lands and further that the greater public have an opportunity to understand the 25 year plans to remediate the site.”