This past week Ontario's REALTORS met at their annual Political Affairs Conference in Toronto, ON. The Conferenece was lead by local REALTOR Gary Zalepa Jr. Broker/Owner of CENTURY 21 City Realty Inc. from Niagara-on-the-Lake. The meeting includes guest speakers, input from leading media, research consultants, politicians and political analysts.
Two issues that REALTORS wished to discuss with their MPP's included the Funding of municipal government and the fiscal challenges when property taxes are the sole source of revenue for municipalities to fund provincially mandated social services as well as traditional services such as police, fire, water... REALTORS estimate that property taxes currently subsidize these provincial programs to the tune of $3.3 Billion per year. This fiscal gap grew by 22% between 2003 and 2005 alone. This is not sustainable. This fiscal gap represents the muncipal subsidy for disability benefits and welfare benefits, the cost of administrating social programs, child care, long-term care for seniors, social housing, public health and ambulance.
The provincial governement will release (Friday Oct 31, 2008) a review of this situtation with an aim to improving the delivery and funding of municipal services. REALTORS are asking MPP's
-to suppport uploading of these provincially mandated social and health services
-to oppose the expansion of land transfer taxes to other municipalities ( as granted to the City of Toronto)
-to advocate for stable, long term funding so municipalities can plan long term
The second issue was the new proposed Mining Act. The current Act is 135 years old. Drafted before urban growth. Today a prospector has the right to enter your private property without notice and can cause damage to your property in the course of prospecting for minerals. Many urban residents may have never witnesses this type of property rights abuse. But do not be comforted in that as this has happened to many Ontario residents and this is not only happen to those living in the far north. Peterborough and other southern Ontario communities have been witness to the lack of rights for property owners in the Mining Act.
Currently the Ontario government is accepting input on the discussion paper "Reformation of the Mining Act". REALTORS have prepared comment and forwarded to the Minister. REALTORS are asking MPP's that the new Mining Act includes
-enhanced rules for prospectors entering private property
-less intrusive prospecting methods
-a broadened list of lands not open for claim staking
-more protection for lands in plans of subdivision, residential lots and cottages
During the conference REALTORS heard from an expert in municipal finance, Scott Tipping (Director of Corporate Services Town of NOTL), leading opinion consultant John Wright (CEO IPSOS Reid), John Tory (Progressive Conservative Leader), and the Minister of Small Business and Consumer Services Harinder Takhar.
We heard from leading journalists Paula Todd (CTV's W-Five), Susanne Kelly (journalist), Gregory Bonnell (Cdn Press) and their thoughts on the political and economic climate in Ontario. This discussion was very lively and a crowd favourite. Also there was a presentation on the new MPAC and assessment rules and services. This was very timely as most Ontario residents are just receiving their latest property assessments. So if you are looking for answers to those MPAC questions contact a REALTOR or look for my next blog article highlighting the new MPAC regulations and what your new assessment really means.