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Councillors split on creating new tax bracket

Tie vote leads to defeat of lower tax class for new multi-residential developments

During a delegation at committee of the whole, Howard Paskowitz, a senior development manager with Medallion Corporation, called for the creation of a new, lower tax bracket for new multi-residential developments. A later vote that called on staff to prepare a report on such a measure was defeated after it finished in a tie.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

If it weren’t for a narrowly defeated vote, the region could have seen a new property tax bracket for new developments.

Originally proposed by Councillor Shaun Collier of Ajax, the motion would have seen regional staff investigate the possibility of creating a new tax class for new multi-residential developments.

The motion came on the same day that Howard Paskowitz, a senior development manager with Medallion Corporation, a property management and real estate company, gave a delegation requesting that the region look into such an idea, saying that it would spur growth in that sector and, at the end of the day, more money for the region.

“It’s our belief that if the market was there now for new rental construction, you’d be seeing new rental construction. This is a way of increasing the tax base to collect taxes that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” Paskowitz told councillors.

During a presentation later in the day on this year’s property taxes, Jim Clapp, the region’s finance commissioner, spoke out against it.

Don Mitchell, the mayor of Whitby and the seconder to Collier’s motion, said that a new tax class would spur development of apartment buildings in Durham.

“Obviously, the commissioner is predisposed against this move. I get that, but the delegation pointed out examples from six municipalities where they’ve done this, and they’ve retained their separate multi-residential rate. We don’t know how long ago they did it, we don’t know what’s happened since, so apparently the sky hasn’t fallen on all those municipalities from doing that,” he said, adding more information is needed before staff come to a decision on whether this is a viable option.

“Quite frankly, the market does not meet all needs, with respect, and this is a need in our community right now. We basically have no market-rate rental. Period.”

Councillor John Aker voiced his support for the plan, saying that due to new provincial guidelines that will require municipalities to have more high-density housing, these types of buildings need to be encouraged.

“There’s the people getting out of their homes, people getting newly married, and the people, unfortunately, that will be in a rental accommodation for the majority of their lives – we have to look at it because for some reason…high-density rental is not arriving,” he said.

Councillor Amy McQuaid-England spoke out against the proposal, saying that if such a scheme were to be adopted, it could lead to a two-tiered rental system in the region.

“The people that could afford to pay would be able to get into the newer units and would be able to get the…lower tax rate, and the people who can’t afford to pay would be stuck under the old system and old housing where there’s no need to invest,” she said.

Regional chair Roger Anderson also spoke out against the plan, saying that it’s wasting the time of staff who have already come out against such a plan.

“This is, in my opinion, wasting staff’s time. It’s just unbelievable that, you know, the number of times we ask staff to go back and do a report, and the more things you add to it, the more time it’s going to take,” he said.

The vote on the motion finished with a split 14-14 result, meaning it was defeated. The Oshawa councillors that voted in favour of the motion were Aker, John Henry, Nancy Diamond, Nester Pidwerbecki and Dan Carter.