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Sault Chamber calls for property tax fairness across province

Ontario property tax system largely unchanged for 25 years
property taxes

The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce wants Queen's Park to address the shortcoming of the province's property tax system.

The chamber calls attention to the fact that Ontario’s property tax system hasn't been fully reviewed since the Harris governmment 25 years ago, and significant changes have occurred across Ontario’s economic landscape since then.

Municipalities are faced with taking the burdens of social housing, the opioid crisis, climate change, infrastructure deficit, and more recently COVID-19.

The resolution, co-authored with the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, was one of a number of proposed policy papers submitted by chambers from across Ontario and brought forward during last week’s Ontario Chamber of Commerce annual policy resolution debate.

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The Sault Ste. Marie-Burlington resolution received unanimous support from the 135-member network.

“As pressure on property taxes increases, Ontario’s municipalities are being faced with the challenging task of attempting to balance their fiscal realities against growing and competing demands for local and regional services,” said Sault Chamber CEO Rory Ring in a statement.

“The challenge is being compounded by the limited revenue tools available to municipalities to meet their financial obligations as well an antiquated system of property tax mitigation programs and relief mechanisms to achieve locally sensitive tax policy priorities that have not been comprehensively revisited or reformed since the mid-1990s.”

The chamber wants the provincial government to honour the commitment it made in the 2019 Spring Budget to undertake a comprehensive review to enhance the accuracy of property assessments, to support a competitive business environment, to provide relief to residents, and to strengthen the governance and accountability of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to ensure better representation for Ontario property taxpayers.

The Sault Chamber also co-sponsored a resolution authored by the Timmins Chamber calling for support for Ontario’s forestry industry through the establishment of an Ontario commercial loan guarantee program.