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Heritage Tax Rebate approved

City council has unanimously approved a Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program for the 2014 tax year. (Councillor Dennison abstained from voting, as he is the owner of a designated heritage property.)

Residential properties that are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act will be eligible for a 20% rebate on the city portion of property taxes, and the same percent for education taxes. That will increase by 5% each year, until a maximum rebate of 40% is reached. Council will be asking the Region of Halton to establish a program to rebate the regional portion of the tax bill (roughly one-third of the total bill).

Heritage Burlington recommended that a similar program be explored for
commercial properties for 2015.

Based on currently designated properties, a 20% reduction represents an average
rebate to designated property owners of $697.72. The average cost to the city for each individual designated property is $447.91, with the remainder of funds being provided by the province for education purposes.

One-time funds of $103,450 for the first year of the Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program were approved in the 2014 budget, with additional funding of $25,500 proposed in the 2015 budget.

Among other things, the rebate program is intended to encourage and promote the protection of heritage properties through designation, increase maintenance on designated properties that might not otherwise be completed, and increase the use of trades skilled in maintenance and restoration of older homes.

Only designated properties are eligible for the rebate, and owners must commit to keeping the home in a state of good repair. If a tax rebate recipient demolishes a property or breaches the terms of a heritage conservation agreement, the municipality may require that the property owner repay all or part of the rebate.

The rebate program is part of “A New Approach to Conserving Burlington’s Heritage,” a series of recommendations developed by the city’s volunteer Heritage Burlington citizen’s advisory committee to improve relations between the city and heritage property owners, and share the costs of heritage preservation. Council approved the  recommendations in “A New Approach” in October 2012.

Read the staff report here: Dec. 15 Development & Infrastructure Committee, agenda item 2

My Take: I’m delighted with the “carrot” approach to preserving heritage. Our heritage buildings are enjoyed by the whole community, adding to the character and history of our neighbourhoods. As such, it is fitting for the community through the rebate contribute to heritage presentation. I support this program being rolled out to commercial properties also.

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

What's your take?