Ontario Construction News staff writer
The County of Wellington and members of the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario (TAPMO) met with Stan Cho, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, to discuss the need to improve how aggregate properties are taxed across Ontario under an equitable valuation system.
The meeting was held during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference, where municipal and provincial policymakers come together to discuss the most pressing issues facing both levels of government.
“We had a very productive conversation about how the current MPAC system is forcing homeowners and businesses to pay more, and we are eager to continue this dialogue,” said James Seeley, Mayor of Puslinch.
“Under a policy-driven, equitable approach, MPAC can enable gravel pits to pay their fair share so that they can continue supporting the municipalities at a time when we need their help most.”
Wellington County and other TAPMO members presented several policy-driven solutions that they say would make the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation’s (MPAC) property tax valuations equitable.
One proposed solution is for the Ministry of Finance to create a separate property class for aggregate-producing properties, similar to the special designation for landfill sites that was created in 2015. The change enabled municipalities to maintain stability in local taxation levels and meet the needs of their communities.
Other recommendations include the ministry of finance issuing a directive to MPAC for how to assess these types of properties based on their true industrial or market value, using the same land values as comparable properties in the area, or removing the exemption of aggregate in the Assessment Act that limits the ability of MPAC to assess the full value of the property.
MPAC’s current property tax valuation structure unfairly sees active gravel pits incurring less property tax than single family homes and small businesses.
It also leads to properties that are located in the same areas and are similar to gravel pits receiving vastly different property valuations, which contradicts the principle of fairness and transparency underpinning our taxation system that similar properties should be treated and taxed equally.
Arbitrarily classifying gravel pits as among the lowest forms of farmland sets an artificial cap on these producers’ valuations and keeps their property taxes well below what they should be paying. In turn, residents and businesses are subsidizing the break that gravel producers are getting.
Aggregate sites are important job creators and an increasingly critical element of public works that help to fuel steady economic growth across Ontario, especially as part of municipalities’ post-pandemic recovery.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the urgency for a policy-driven, equitable approach. Municipalities across Ontario are fighting to continue providing a high standard of services to our families and businesses who need them now more than ever.
The lost tax revenue undermines our ability to enhance those services at the time when our residents are suffering,” said Warden Kelly Linton.
“We know aggregate producers want to be part of the solution in terms of helping families and businesses get back on their feet – the very people who are carrying the burden of the current MPAC system.”
Current MPAC valuation system, these sites generate significantly less revenue for municipalities and the Province than other possible uses for the same land, costing municipalities across Ontario millions of dollars in lost tax revenue every year and negatively impacts their abilities to deliver more fulsome services and programs to taxpayers.
Ontario municipalities are therefore eager to find a solution that is fair for all involved: the municipality, taxpayers, and aggregate producers.