At the request of the Heritage Committee, the Council members asked staff to develop options to increase tax breaks for heritage owners
Cultural property owners in the town of Collingwood could get additional tax breaks next year pending some council votes.
City Culture Committee Chair Jennifer McEwan took the idea to the Standing Committee on Development and Operations yesterday evening (March 8th) asking the council to improve the current tax relief program.
At Collingwood, those who own Grade II listed buildings receive a 10 percent property tax break. The city, county and province fund the program.
The program is covered by municipal law, which states that the tax break can range from 10 to 40 percent.
The Heritage Committee wants the aid program to increase to 20 percent for 2022 and then by five percent each year until it reaches the maximum allowable level (40 percent).
“The program provides an incentive to promote the preservation and restoration of historic buildings,” said McEwen during her presentation to the council. “It offsets the maintenance and rehabilitation costs associated with managing heritage.”
A survey conducted by the Heritage Committee found that Tay Township, Midland, Springwater, Penetanguishene and Bradford West Gwillimbury each have 40 percent tax relief programs.
Downtown Collingwood properties, as well as sporadic locations in the city that have been designated Historic Buildings, are eligible for the tax break program. To claim this, the owner must make an agreement with the city to comply with the heritage statutes and complete the works as prioritized in an agreed maintenance list.
“Since it is more expensive to maintain an older home than a new one, this is a huge relief and encourages owners to preserve their property,” said McEwan. “It helps improve the community.”
McEwan said historic buildings are important to Collingwood and act as economic, cultural and environmental factors.
“People are drawn to these older buildings and locations. There is something in us that recognizes that there is something of value here, ”said McEwan. “These places cannot be replaced.”
According to McEwan, the city spent around $ 15,287 on the tax break program last year. When combined with the provincial and county funding, the total cost of the tax break was $ 33,598.
Based on a “very rough forecast,” if the tax relief were increased to 40 percent, the program would cost the city $ 61,149 (based on 2019 participation) and approximately $ 125,391 for the combined city, county, and province costs.
Members of the Development and Operations Committee – Mayor Brian Saunderson, Deputy Mayor Keith Hull, Coun. Yvonne Hamlin, Coun. Kathy Jeffery and Coun. Deb Doherty – everyone was in favor of added relief for property owners.
“There seems to be some consensus that this is a priority [for residents]”Said Hull.
Both he and Doherty referred to previous occasions on which the Heritage Committee has made a similar motion.
“We were the first community to be included on Canada’s Major Historic Site Register, and yet we are lagging behind … in terms of supporting our heritage,” said Doherty.
The committee unanimously voted to ask staff to submit a report in the third quarter of 2021 with options to increase the cultural heritage tax breaks in the 2022 budget.