(May 4, 2021, Burlington, Ontario) Today, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce was presented with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Advocacy Award along with the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce for its joint advocacy work on modernizing Ontario’s property tax system. Burlington Chamber President and CEO, Carla Y. Nell and Sault Ste. Marie Chamber CEO, Rory Ring, accepted the award virtually during the Ontario Chamber’s Annual General Meeting and Convention.
“I’m so pleased that we have been recognized for our efforts by our peers at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for the significant work that was done to drive discussions for change at the provincial and municipal levels of government,” said Nell. “We’ve made some incredible headway in advancing the transformation of Ontario’s tax system, but there is still work to be done, and we are committed to continuing to move this forward as communities across Ontario begin to recover from the pandemic and look for strategies to support their economic prosperity.”
Last year, the Burlington and Sault Ste. Marie Chambers submitted a resolution to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce that was approved unanimously and advanced to the Ontario government for consideration. As a result, the 2020 Ontario budget implemented a number of changes reflected in the resolution including:
- Significant reductions in business education tax rates across the province;
- A moratorium on province-wide reassessment for 2021 with the next revaluation date for all property to be determined in future;
- The creation of a new optional subclass for small commercial properties to allow municipalities to target relief to businesses with a commitment on the part of the Province to match eligible property tax reductions; and
- A commitment to future changes to property valuation methodologies to protect areas undergoing redevelopment and to provide stability and fairness for other complex property types.
At the local level, the Province’s budget announcements led to a series of activities that would see municipalities also offering property tax relief to aid businesses and residents in managing through the immediate hardship brought on by the pandemic, while committing to working towards a modernized property tax system that will better accommodate the needs of municipalities across Ontario into the future.
Many municipalities throughout Ontario have implemented property tax deferral programs enabling businesses to take advantage of at least one financial tool to aid in providing immediate financial relief due to the pandemic.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Chamber’s Board of Directors and members of our Political Action Committee, as well as Chamber staff who made this award possible. Equally important, I am encouraged by the property tax changes that were implemented and optimistic about the future of modernizing our property tax system in Ontario,” says Nell.
Ontario’s property tax system has not been fully reviewed since the new Ontario Fair Assessment System (OFAS) was first introduced by the former Harris government approximately 25 years ago. Since that time, significant changes have occurred across Ontario’s economic landscape influencing global and local competitiveness and fundamentally altering traditional economic paradigms. This trend has been further compounded by increasing demands placed on municipalities as they are confronted with challenges, such as social housing, the opioid crisis, climate change, rapidly evolving technology, and the growing infrastructure deficit. As the principal source of funding for local government, Ontario’s property tax system requires a significant re-evaluation through the lenses of modernization, ensuring competitiveness, transparency, and stability to ensure fair and equitable property tax treatment for the future.
Director, Stakeholder Relations and Policy