By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
If you are sitting on a piece of vacant industrial land in Oshawa, your local councillors think you should pay the price.
Currently, owners of unused plots of industrial land pay the same residential taxes as home owners, as opposed to the higher rate that would be due if the land were developed. It is because of this that councillors say they believe it is cheaper for many property owners just to leave the land as is, rather than developing it.
According to numbers from the city’s industrial land inventory, there is currently more than 2,700 acres of industrial land in Oshawa. Of that number, more than a third – 1,000 acres – of it sits vacant.
“I think it’s high time we go after owners that are sitting on vacant land,” says Councillor Amy McQuaid-England.
“Those that sit on vacant land and don’t contribute with jobs, don’t contribute with taxes, are now put into a position where they have to pay up, because if the land is vacant, you shouldn’t get a discount. If the land is vacant, you should be paying 10 times more than everyone else.”
Following a motion that carried unanimously through the finance committee, city staffers will now be looking to gather statistics and analyze options for what the city can do, including approaching the province about opening these landowners up to higher tax rates, and reporting back to committee at a later date.
“I think that the province needs to recognize, if they want intensification, if they want us to be doing all of the things they want us to do for climate change, for development, for everything else, then they need to give us the tools to go after the people that are sitting on vacant land,” McQuaid-England says.
For some landowners, part of the problem is the lack of proper zoning and services to Oshawa’s industrial sites. Of the 1,000 acres of vacant land, approximately 215 acres are pre-zoned and fully serviced. On top of that, some of Oshawa’s portions have been vacant for decades.
“Unfortunately, if you don’t want to invest in our community, I don’t think you should be welcome here anymore,” McQuaid-England says.