July, 19 2017 Published by Toronto and Area Chapter - By Bill Thompson

Mr. Tory, Will You Help Us Fix This?

From the Summer 2017 issue of the CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine.

Canada is a vast country. It is vast in size, it is vast in nature, and it is vast in diversity, caring and community. Canada has set itself apart from many countries by recognizing that we are all different and that we need to be respectful of that fact. The condos in Canada are no different than the country itself.

Did you ever wonder why condos are built in vast open spaces like Newfoundland or the Prairies where there is so much space that condos should surely be unnecessary? Why would someone in St. John's want to live in a community with others in as close a proximity as offered in a condominium? Why would someone in Regina flock to a condominium high-rise? The answer is very much like the description of Canada. People move into condos because of the diversity, the caring and the community.

Sure, many of you will say that cost is the driving factor, and while it clearly is one of the factors, it is not necessarily the driving factor. Take, for example, a superheated real estate market like Toronto. Clearly, people are only moving into condos because of price in that redhot skyrocketing market! Realistically, that is not entirely true. People who move into condos have a choice of which condo to move into, and it is not necessarily the cheapest condos that are in the highest demand. The trend is to move into condos that reflect the person. Where they want to live, what they want to do, how they want to be looked at. They move into condos that reflect their vision of themselves. That includes both new and experienced purchasers. Many empty nesters are looking forward to selling the house and buying a condo, or maybe two, for their golden years. They look forward to the community, the simplicity and the freedom that condos bring.

My beef is that the governments, at virtually all levels, ignore the economic impact and community benefit that comes from the condo economy and fail to treat condos fairly in their plans. Condos add massive tax value to municipalities while offsetting community costs with such things as installing amenities on site. Municipalities, with few exceptions, do not take into consideration the tax benefit versus tax cost for a condominium property in comparison to any other residential property, or offer condos a distinct tax class. It is clear that the cost of services offered to condos is less per acre than any other form of housing, yet the property taxes received are the highest per acre for the residential class of property. This inequity needs to be corrected. The tools are there, the authority is there, but the political will is lacking. The governments do not treat condos as being different, which in my view goes against the basic principles that built this country.

My challenge is to get the Mayor in Toronto to recognize that his impact in changing this trend is critical. Toronto is the fastest growing condo centre in the world. If there is a place that should recognize the distinctness of condos, this would be it. If there is a place that can understand the benefit to the tax system of contributions from condominiums, this is it. Toronto Mayor John Tory appears to be a fair man with a realistic view of his city. Mr. Tory, will you help Canada fix this? Encourage the province to create a separate tax class for condos, so that property taxes can finally be fairly assessed. Set the example, and change Canada's condo discrimination forever.


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