City Seeks Public Input on Future of Vacancy Tax Rebates
North Bay, ON – June 18, 2019 – The City of North Bay is seeking public input on the proposed elimination of the tax rebate program for vacant commercial and industrial properties.
The program allows owners of commercial and industrial buildings to apply for a partial rebate of property taxes if all or part of the property meets certain eligibility criteria, including having been vacant for at least 90 consecutive days.
It was introduced in 1998 when the Province mandated all Ontario municipalities to offer a tax rebate to vacant commercial and industrial properties as means of more closely mimicking the effects of the Business Occupancy Tax system that was repealed at the end of 1997.
As of 2017, the Province has provided municipalities with broad flexibility to tailor the treatment of these vacant unit programs in response to local circumstances, including the ability to eliminate the rebates altogether. Many communities have already embraced that option by cancelling their programs outright or phasing them out over time.
In North Bay, the rebate program, which was conceived to address temporary and sporadic conditions, has been marked by some critical weaknesses since its inception and has become increasingly problematic over time. Many properties remain eligible for years at a time or indefinitely, thereby receiving ongoing vacancy rebates while also realizing assessment based reductions to reflect persistently low occupancy rates.
It is after careful review that City Staff is recommending the program be eliminated, based on the limited benefit, pervasive compliance issues and high administrative costs, which are ultimately carried by all taxpayers.
The City is seeking input regarding the potential implications of this proposed change from landlords, business owners and members of the general public. Interested parties are encouraged to complete an online survey and to submit comments at https://www.cityofnorthbay.ca/vacancyrebatereview.
Comment forms can also be picked up in person at Customer Service at City Hall, 200 McIntyre St. E., North Bay, ON. Visit https://www.cityofnorthbay.ca/vacancyrebate for more information about the City vacancy tax rebate program and its eligibility requirements.
Marc A. Gauthier, Manager of Revenues and Taxation
705.474.0626, ext. 2127