Today I was pleased to have our Finance and Economic Development Committee support my motion to request the Province of Ontario review its vacancy rebate tax legislation. This legislation is intended to allow commercial property owners to receive a property tax reduction when their property is vacant and they are trying to lease or rent it.
The legislation is not intended to allow property owners to be rewarded for keeping derelict properties vacant, or in a case such as that in another municipality where a company locked its employees out of the business in a labour negotiation and then claimed the property vacant. Working together with the Provincial government we can ensure this legislation is used in the spirit in which it was intended
Moved by / Motion de: Councillor M. Taylor
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Finance and Economic Development Committee approve the addition of this item for consideration by the committee at today’s meeting, pursuant to Subsection 89.(3) of the procedure by-law (being by-law no. 2014-441) due to the need to consider the following motion by October 31st, 2015:
WHEREAS the City is required to have a Vacancy Rebate Program, as defined under Section 364 of the Municipal Act, 2001 and Ontario Regulation 325/01, which allows for property tax relief to be granted to eligible business properties owners when vacant for a minimum of 90 consecutive days; and
WHEREAS on August 10th, 2015, City Council received a letter, dated July 10th, 2015, attached as “Schedule A” from Haldimand County requesting that the Minister of Finance and Minister of Municipal Affairs “review this legislation from a public policy perspective to ensure that businesses are not eligible for a reduced property tax burden if the claimed ‘vacancy’ is a result of a labour disruption” and further requesting that municipalities support this resolution; and
WHEREAS on February 13th, 2013, City Council directed a petition from the City of Ottawa to the Province of Ontario to review the eligibility criteria and limit the access to the rebate for a three year period to encourage activity in certain derelict properties; and
WHEREAS a broader interpretation on the criteria is being given than intended by the Legislature and the City recognizes that the vacancy rebate subsidy is directly issued from municipal revenues and that the eligibility criteria for the program may be reviewed by the Minister of Finance and Minister of Municipal Affairs as part of the submissions due by October 31st, 2015, under the Municipal Legislation Review;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City support the resolution from Haldimand County and request that the Minister of Finance and Minister of Municipal Affairs review the eligibility criteria for property tax rebates for vacancy pursuant to Section 364 of the Municipal Act, 2001 to ensure that the eligibility criteria reflects intent of the legislation and consider the impact on municipal revenues.