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County gains six per cent in assessment review on provincial parks

The County will receive six per cent more in payments in lieu of taxes from three provincial parks here.

In 2012 the County appealed the assessment for the four provincial parks located in the County. An Assessment Review Board mediated settlement reached with
the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation resulted in the increase for Sandbanks Provincial Park, North Beach Provincial Park, and Timber
Island Provincial Park Nature Reserve which is a limestone island that is part of the eastern Lake Ontario flyway, a biannual landing site for migratory birds. The appeal for Lake on the Mountain was withdrawn.

The Sandbanks was currently assessed at $36,496,000 while the municipal estimate was $72,754,000. The increased assessment will result in an additional $151,000 in Payment in Lieu of Taxes for 2016. The cost for legal and consulting was $39,000.

A number of taxation years were appealed. The 2012 Current Value Assessment (“CVA”) (phased in for the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 taxation years) was appealed and the 2008 CVA was appealed for the 2012 Taxation year for Sandbanks Provincial Park.

“To determine the 2012 CVA, MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) developed a special Ontario Provincial Parks Valuation Syntax (“Syntax”) for determining the property values of provincial parks,” said County CAO James Hepburn in his report. “This Syntax uses a number of factors to determine a provincial park’s value. The 12 steps used in this modeling process create a complex and unwieldy calculation. The use of this syntax is a radical departure from normal Ontario property assessment methodology of a generally accepted sales analysis approach. In an effort to reach a settlement, the County agreed to the use of the new Syntax to determine park valuations.”

“The two courses of action for the ARB appeals were to reach a mediated settlement or to proceed to a board hearing,” he said. “If we had proceeded to a hearing we may have been successful in introducing more traditional valuation techniques for the parks. However, this process would have been difficult given the challenge of finding comparable properties to base “market” value on. Also, it was apparent that MPAC had invested considerable time and effort developing the Valuation Syntax for the 320 Provincial Parks in Ontario. It was unlikely that they would easily abandon their valuation method.”

Hepburn said the cost of a hearing would have been significant, and with no assurances of a positive outcome, it was decided to work towards a mediated settlement.

During preparation for the appeals MPAC discovered a number of issues with the assessment of Lake on the Mountain – including the valuation of acreage associated with the lake bed and duplication of the assessment of land also utilized for the Glenora Fisheries Research Station. The County agreed to withdraw its appeal of the Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park roll numbers based on the assessment not being decreased for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 taxation years.

sandbanks-tax-charts

Hepburn said that in addition to the ARB appeals the MNRF was engaged in a discussion to move forward on a number of other non-assessment issues.

“These issues were to expedite the transfer of the Wellington Beach property and the Glendon Green Boat Launch property to the
municipality for an administrative fee, and support the process to widen County Road 12 in the area adjacent to the new campground.

Last year, Mayor Robert Quaiff met with the Minister of Natural Resourses and Forestry (MNRF) to discuss “unusually low assessment values of MNR properties and increased wear and tear on municipal roads from the 600,000-plus visitors travelling to the Sandbanks park.

He requested the MNR pay its fair share noting that “While the province continues to receive a net profit of nearly $2 million per year from the Sandbanks Provincial Park alone, the municipality is solely footing the bill to maintain roads essential to the park’s accessibility.”

Filed Under: Local News

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