Richard Cone is lobbying candidates for city council in Kenora on behalf of the property owners' association on the Black Sturgeon. Cone wants to see more value for money, when it comes to the services they receive in return for their property taxes.
For a community that wants to attract more visitors, and become more of a retirement community, Cone says there are issues city council needs to address.
"If you have gross inequities, then you have problems in achieving that. It needs to be something that's fairer geographically across the region," Cone said, during a visit to Q104.
A person on the Black Sturgeon can pay $8,000 a year for their property tax in the city, but a neighbouring property can be taxed at $1,500 for the same level of service, Cone added. The difference between protection services -- such as fire and police -- don't justify the difference, he noted.
When comparing Kenora with nearby communities of the same size, such as Dryden or Steinbach, Cone acknowledged the influence of geography, when building and maintaining roads or bridges. Still, he doesn't think ratepayers on the Black Sturgeon are being taxed fairly.
"That's not going to get any better, unless it's addressed," he said.
Cone underlined there are home owners -- who bought their property years ago and are now on a fixed income -- who can no longer afford their home, but are having trouble selling, due to the tax rate. If it continues unchecked, Cone suggested there may be more protests.
In 2004, Resident After Fair Taxation (RAFT) worked with the recently-formed City of Kenora to form a committee, whose mandate was to study ways to resolve the issue of tax fairness. The Town of Kenora merged with the Town of Keewatin and the Township of Jaffray-Melick in 2000.
In the responses to his survey, Cone says the candidates challenging for a seat on council were more open to the notion of reforming the property tax system than incumbents. He also allowed that the decision to reform the current tax system would have to be approved by Queen's Park. However, he noted the current political climate, along with the current MPP, might make it a good time for lobbying the provincial government.
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