I have learned from a downtown church leader that the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is targetting some places of worship to assess their community gathering spaces (eg. parish hall) for the purpose of assessing property tax. This has already been done in churches throughout Ontario to disastrous effect.
Many churches offer their community space to local groups; if places of worship will now have to pay property tax on those spaces, the cost will be prohibitive to the church and the community group, and these important activities in our community places of worship will end.
I have contacted downtown churches, most of whom are very concerned. I’ll be hosting a meeting of community faith leaders, date and time to be confirmed, to discuss the issue and plan a coordinated response.
My take: Places of worship provide many valuable community services that simply wouldn’t exist or would be cost-prohibitive to users if the private sector or government had to provide them. In recognition of the valuable role they play in our community, places of worship have been property-tax exempt. We need to keep it that way, or our communities will suffer.