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It’s time for the LPOA annual general meeting

Please mark Wednesday, November 29th in your calendar, and join the Leaside Property Owners’ Association for our Annual General Meeting. This is an opportunity to catch up on all the latest issues and developments in our community, ask questions, offer opinions, and get together with your neighbours. We have reserved the William Lea Room at Leaside Gardens, there’s lots of parking, and we can promise you an interesting and informative event. The room opens at 7 p.m., and the AGM will begin at 7:30 p.m. Details on topics and speakers will be posted at lpoa.ca as we get closer to the date.

And now a cautionary tale, since the real estate market has slowed in recent weeks. The LPOA is hearing reports that some buyers of Leaside houses, who bought when the market was hot and prices were higher, are reneging on their agreed purchase price. They are trying to pressure sellers to accept a lower amount for their property. To add insult to injury, this likely happens literally at the very last minute, on the date the property was due to change hands.

Many sellers will already have purchased another home and made arrangements to move. Suddenly the seller is being pressured to settle for a lower price or face the hassle of relisting the property, with the possibility of getting less on the new sale price, as well as taking the would-have-been buyer to court to reclaim at least part of the previously agreed deposit.

This is happening even in cases where the buyer’s deposit had been unconditional.

We’re also hearing that some buyers are assuring sellers that they plan to live in Leaside, and even say they have children who will be attending Leaside schools, but, once the house is theirs, immediately list the house on Airbnb instead. Later in the fall, City Council will be deciding new regulations on bnb practices, which cannot come soon enough if we want to protect the nature of our neighbourhood.

I’m pleased the subject of property tax is once again in the news. Specifically, how property taxes are assessed. Under the current system, Market Value Assessment (MVA), your home is taxed based on its potential value, not its actual value. Back in the late 1990s, I was co-chair of a province-wide group attempting to convince the then Mike Harris provincial government to implement a fairer method of property tax assessment in Ontario. We did not succeed, but perhaps this should be an issue in next year’s provincial election?

Under MVA, if your house is on a lot which is potentially large enough for more than one house, it will be assigned a higher tax bill even if there is just one small house there. The system is based not so much on what is, but on what could be. It’s totally unrelated to the income of the inhabitant, number of residents, or the amount of city services used (like water, sewage, etc.). The result is neighbourhoods, like Leaside, where many homeowners are “house rich but cash poor.” Seniors on fixed pension incomes, young families with high mortgage costs, and many others face unaffordable property tax bills.

I’d like to see more effort spent on devising a fairer property tax system to replace MVA. Other municipalities, in Canada and internationally, use a wide variety of other methods of assessment, some elements of which could apply here. For instance, in some approaches residential tax rates only change when the property itself changes hands, so the current owner has the certainty of knowing what the tax will be long term. In others, rates are based on a combination of elements such as municipal services used plus family income.

What do you think?

Our next LPOA board meeting is on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1st at 7:30 p.m. in the Noble Room at Trace Manes. These meetings are always open to the public, and take place on the first Wednesday of each month. We invite you to attend, whether for help or advice on local matters, or just to hear more about what is happening in our community.