Van Raay Paskal Farms Ltd., et al. v. County of Lethbridge

(Alta.) (Civil) (By Leave)


Legislation - Interpretation, Taxation legislation - Legislation — Interpretation — Taxation legislation — Municipality enacting Business Tax Bylaw specifying method of assessment based on “storage capacity” of premises occupied by business under delegated authority of Municipal Government Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. M 26, s. 374(1)(b)(ii) — What is correct approach to interpreting legislation delegating an authority to tax and how should this Court’s decisions in United Taxi Drivers' Fellowship of Southern Alberta v. Calgary (City), 2004 SCC 19 and Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2001 SCC 15 be reconciled in the context of tax authority delegated to a municipality? — What role should dictionary definitions properly play in interpreting scope of delegated tax authority?.


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The applicants are owners of cattle feedlots and farm land located in the County of Lethbridge in Alberta. The County of Lethbridge is a rural municipality and its local economy relies predominately on agriculture. The County passed a Business Tax Bylaw that applied to businesses including feedlots and other confined feeding operations in the County. The applicants sought a declarations under the Municipal Government Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. M 26 that the bylaw was invalid and ultra vires the County.