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Ontario Tax - Assessment - Tax Refund [Municipal Act, s.357]

. 2198806 Ontario Inc. v. The Corporation of the City of Windsor

In 2198806 Ontario Inc. v. The Corporation of the City of Windsor (Div Court, 2023) the Divisional Court considered (and dismissed) a JR against an appeal decision of the Assessment Review Board (ARB) which denied a challenge to a municipality's decision to not grant a property tax refund of the applicant's hotel property when it was shut down for construction to convert to residential rental use.

In these quotes the court interprets s.357 ['Cancellation, reduction, refund of taxes'] of the Municipal Act, 2001:
Did the Board err in requiring demolition to take place in the year for which relief was sought?

[14] The Applicant submits the Board erred when it interpreted s. 357(1)(d)(ii) as requiring demolition to have occurred within the same tax year for relief to be available. In the Applicant’s submission, the Board adopted a novel interpretation of the statutory provision and unreasonably failed to explain its departure from existing jurisprudence.

[15] I do not see a basis to interfere in the Board’s interpretation. Section 357 specifically refers to relief available during the year in which the building was “damaged by ... demolition.” It provides:
357(1) Upon application to the treasurer of a local municipality made in accordance with this section, the local municipality may cancel, reduce or refund all or part of taxes levied on land in the year in respect of which the application is made if,

(d) during the year or during the preceding year after the return of the assessment roll[1], a building on the land,

(ii) was damaged by fire, demolition or otherwise so as to render it substantially unusable for the purposes for which it was used immediately prior to the damage. (emphasis added)
[16] The Board found that the property did not qualify for relief because the demolition which caused it to be substantially unusable occurred prior to 2017 and did not occur in 2016 after the return of the assessment roll. It noted that the only demolition in 2017 was of a small area of the property that did not render the building substantially unusable.

[17] Given the specific requirement that the building be damage by demolition “during the year” in which tax relief was sought, it was open to the Board to interpret the provision as requiring the demolition and resulting damage to have occurred during that year.

[18] I disagree that the Board’s interpretation departs from existing jurisprudence in any significant way.

[19] In Canadian Property Holdings (Ontario) Inc. v. Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, Region 15, 2017 CanLII 78332 (ON ARB), the property demolition occurred and continued to keep the property substantially unusable through the tax year for which relief was sought. The decision does not address demolition that occurred in a prior year.

[20] In Panagiotis v. Municipal Property Assessment Corporation Region 15, 2019 CanLII 135404 (ON ARB) the Board granted relief on the basis that a fire in late 2015 rendered the property unusable for the 2016 taxation year. While the result is consistent with the applicant’s submission, the question of whether the property owner was entitled to relief in the year after the fire was not an issue in dispute. The Board did not expressly rule on it.


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Last modified: 08-01-24
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