Property Assessment and Classification Review -Introduction

INTRODUCTION

On December 12, 2000, the former Minister of Finance, the Honourable Ernie Eves, commissioned a review of the property assessment process. The mandate for this project included a review of the following aspects of the assessment system:

  • the operational structure of the Ontario Property Assessment Corporation (OPAC);
  • the relationship between OPAC and the provincial government; and
  • the regulation defining property classifications (Ontario Regulation 282/98).

A three-month mandate was provided for this review. During this period of time, it was not possible to address the broad spectrum of assessment and tax policy issues that were raised by stakeholders with respect to O. Reg. 282/98. Therefore, the review concentrated on the operational structure of the assessment corporation and the relationship of that corporation with the provincial government. A report on this review was delivered to the former Minister of Finance, the Honourable James Flaherty, on April 2, 2001.

Upon analysis of the recommendations contained in the report of April 2, 2001, the Government identified a need to enhance the accountability and customer service capacity of OPAC. To meet these objectives, the Government announced the following changes in the 2001 Ontario Budget:

  • restructure the Board of Directors of the assessment corporation to include five taxpayer representatives along with eight municipal representatives and two provincial representatives to ensure that the interests of the full spectrum of the corporation's clients and stakeholders are represented on the board;
  • require the appointment of a Quality Service Commissioner to ensure that a consistent level of customer service standards are met by the corporation;
  • eliminate the ability of municipalities to opt out of the assessment corporation and conduct their own assessments to ensure that consistent assessment practices continue to be followed province-wide; and
  • change the name of the corporation to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to better reflect the organization's status as a municipal corporation.

In addition to the changes that were made to the governance structure of the assessment corporation, the Government has implemented the following measures stemming from the recommendations contained in the report of April 2, 2001:

  • The eligibility period of the new multi-residential property class has been extended from eight years to thirty-five years to provide a greater incentive for the development of new affordable rental housing.
  • Municipalities have been given the ability to provide property tax reductions to heritage properties.
  • Assessment appeal filing fees that are paid to the Assessment Review Board (ARB) are refunded if an appellant settles its dispute through the reconsideration process without proceeding to a hearing at the ARB.

Recognizing that there was insufficient time during the initial three-month mandate to tackle the broad array of assessment, classification and tax policy issues that were raised by stakeholders, the former Minister of Finance, the Honourable James Flaherty, extended the mandate for this review, as announced on July 18, 2001. This public consultation and review process was extended to provide an opportunity for all of the issues raised by stakeholders to be fully canvassed.

The mandate that was provided for the second phase of this review included the following issues:

  • the number, scope and definition of the property classes and sub-classes;
  • the assessment methodology applied to unique properties; and
  • the linkages between assessment classifications and related public policy objectives of the Government of Ontario.

The enclosed report contains a discussion and recommendations on the issues that were brought forward by stakeholders during the second phase of the review, and it also includes issues raised during the first phase of the review which were not addressed in the report of the Special Advisor dated April 2, 2001.


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