Repeal of Vacancy Tax Rebate Program

My motion to request the repeal of the vacancy tax rebate for commercial and industrial properties passed unanimously. By way of background, the vacancy tax rebate provides tax rebates to owners of commercial or industrial properties which have vacant portions – a rebate of 30% on their property tax. The funding for these rebates comes largely from residential taxpayers as the rebates form part of the Town’s budget for tax adjustments. This means they are funded by the taxes paid by all taxpayers, including approximately 85% by the residential property class.

Many other municipalities in Ontario – including Toronto, Windsor, Port Hope – are requesting eliminating this tax-payer funded rebate plan. I am glad that Aurora is taking a leadership role in York Region; taking the lead in requesting this repeal. It is only fair. As our own staff report states, “… these properties already receive a credit off their assessments for vacancies. A vacancy rebate could then be considered “double dipping”.

While Aurora Council unanimously supports the repeal of the Vacancy Tax rebate, and while the province has indicated that it is willing to look at the vacancy rebates policy. The Province would only make changes which affect the upper tier as a whole, so as we are a lower tier municipality, we need to make the case to the Regional Council; It will be up to our Regional Representative – Mayor Dawe – to represent the interests of the Town and the will of Aurora Council to Regional Council and get the Regions support for Aurora’s position on the repealing of the Vacancy Tax Rebate. 

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2 Responses

  1. If I recall 3 years of numbers were provided by the Financial Services Director to council at the February 28th meeting, I believe they were:

    2013 – 85 rebates approved cost to Aurora : $77,000

    2014 – 84 rebates approved cost to Aurora : $48,000

    2015 – 67 rebates approved cost to Aurora : $34,000

    Numbers were not provided, perhaps not approved or calculated for the 2016 program but the trend above suggests that fewer rebates are being approved year after year.

    Given that during this period vacancies appear to be increasing (I say appear as there are no measures I can find by the town that indicates they are even monitoring vacancies) I would conclude that an average rebate of $500 is not a significant factor in landlords failing to fill units.

    What efforts is the town making to track vacant ground floor space? If none, would you consider moving a motion to follow what is being done in Hamilton (for 7 years) London (6 years) Welland (6 years) and Bradford last year.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. The numbers you identify are just Aurora’s portion of the rebate. Here is the total rebate

      2013: 85 rebates paid totalling $383,647:
      split Town $77,317 , Region $94,804, School $211,526

      2014: 84 Rebates paid totalling $238,824: split Town $48,812, Region $58,332, School $ 131,680

      2015: 67 rebates paid totalling $167,127: Split Town$34,600, Region $40,833, School $91,694

      As for what the Town is doing to track vacant properties. Last week there was a report to create a vacant building registry bylaw similar to Hamilton.

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