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County won’t put Westar Landfill site up for auction

Posted on December 14, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

Southern Alberta Newspapers

A former landfill that caught on fire 10 years ago and is still subject to environmental monitoring will not move to a tax auction next March.

Cypress County council received and approved reserve bids for the 2024 tax auction, including the quarter-section where the Westar Landfill is located near the junction of Highways 41 and 41A, east of Medicine Hat.

Tax auctions are held by municipalities to recover taxes owed on property after accounts are outstanding for a period of three years.

Nine properties appear on the 2024 list, approved at the Dec. 5 regular council meeting, along with minimum bids, but the Westar Landfill site is not attached to a value.

“It will not be offered for sale on the list,” director of corporate services Stephen Toews told council.

While not common, municipalities can decline to offer properties at tax auction to recover unpaid taxes, or refuse to take ownership themselves, mostly to avoid potential liabilities related to the property.

In 2015, the City of Medicine Hat chose to write off unpaid taxes on a former scrap yard rather than take over ownership of the lot to avoid being saddled with cleanup requirements.

Alberta Environment is now monitoring that property, at 1248 S. Railway, after the numbered company that owned the site was struck off the corporate registry.

The Westar site is subject to a cleanup order to return material salvaged from the pit during the firefighting effort in late 2013.

That was appealed however, and discussions have been ongoing since 2014, according to the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board.

The next required update is due to the board by Jan. 4.

Eight other properties on the initial tax auction list include portions of two quarter-sections, and lots in Suffield, Walsh, Seven Persons and two residential lots outside hamlets.

The number is not “irregular” compared to other years, administrators said, and the majority typically resolve before an auction takes place, which will occur March 31, 2024.

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