Municipal leaders petition province for payment in lieu of tax exempt lands

EVANSVILLE—A group of Western Manitoulin municipal leaders will be making a presentation to the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA), petitioning the province to provide payment to municipalities whose lands are purchased and in turn become tax exempt. The group also wants support in setting up a meeting with provincial officials on this issue.

This comes after the announcement earlier this month by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) that it is looking at purchasing approximately 60 percent of Cockburn Island for conservation, and of other purchases of lands by groups such as the NCC around Manitoulin that are also tax exempt.

Wayne Bailey, Dale Van Every, Don Van Every, Lee Hayden, Ken Noland, Lyle Addison, John McQuarrie, and others prepared a presentation at a meeting last week, to be presented to the MMA at its next meeting. “Our objectives are to first explore options available to alleviate municipalities burden resulting from lands being purchased and being tax exempt, and how the province can provide some assistance on this,” said Mr. Bailey. He said the purchase of large tracts of land being tax exempt, “could in time render some municipalities insolvent and unable to fund necessary social services.”

“Secondly, we want to inform the public and government of the effects and how seriously designated tax exemption conservancy lands impacts all of Manitoulin, including our municipalities,” said Mr. Bailey.

Mr. Bailey said the delegation will be providing a large map of Manitoulin, indicating all the lands that have been removed from Island municipalities and townships tax rolls, through purchase from NCC, MNR, Escarpment Biosphere and First Nations.

“There will be an impact statement pointing out the positive and negatives of conservancy lands having been purchased in each municipality,” said Mr. Bailey. He explained a request would be made to the MMA, “asking MMA members to petition the province to provide payment in lieu of any lands that are purchased that are tax exempt and the municipality has lost revenues. And we would like the MMA to support setting up a meeting with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to outline our concerns.”

“When I looked at map, I was actually overwhelmed at how much of Dawson-Robinson property has been taken off the tax rolls,” continued Mr. Bailey. “This whole issue is pretty serious for our municipalities, and their futures,” he added.

Tom Sasvari