Property tax crisis for horse farms
Leslie Brooks & Jim Waechter, Chairs of ARE Committee re. Taxation of Horse Farms
January 19, 2005
On August 18, 2004, the Association of Riding Establishments of Ontario formed a committee to address the property tax issues surrounding horse farms and riding establishments. In the absence of clear policy direction or due regard for the largely agricultural nature of the land use, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is arbitrarily assessing riding establishments in their entirety as commercial rather than agricultural. This results in an increase in property taxes from, depending on the municipality, an agricultural rate of 0.3% to a commercial rate of 4%, an increase in excess of 1300%. The financial impact is so severe that some horse barns have already gone out of business and many others are sure to follow.
The mission of the ARE-ONT MPAC Committee is to research the issues presented, making information available to fellow stable operators, following through with the necessary letter writing and/or petitions, working with other affected groups such as the Ontario Therapeutic Riding Association, and to taking the steps necessary to assist MPAC in making fair assessments of property utilized for equines.
Since August, volunteer co-chairs of the Committee, Jim Waechter and Leslie Brooks (519-696-3688), have been diligently researching and organizing the steps necessary to make these changes. In addition to meeting with politicians, agricultural groups and members of MPAC itself, Jim and Leslie have spearheaded a letter writing campaign in order to draw attention to the disastrous consequences of the recent property assessments performed by MPAC on equine establishments. It is the Committees hope the campaign will help address the severe financial hardship that MPAC is placing on Ontarios riding establishments through inequitable and inappropriate taxation. Update as of Dec 10th - There are now documented cases where racing and breeding barns have also been re-assessed as commercial.
This issue affects all riders, horse owners, students, as well as the barn owners and all related horse industries and friends of horses. If the equine facilities in Ontario are forced to close their doors due to unreasonable tax bills, there will be nowhere for owners to board their horses, nowhere for our youth to learn how to ride and nowhere for the people of Ontario to enjoy "the horse" as an activity of choice, whether it be for recreation, education, health, career, or sport.
The letter writing campaign package includes 6 letters that address the Minister of Finance, President of MPAC, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Minister of Tourism and Recreation.
The letters were circulated at the recent ARE-ONT and OEF Annual General Meeting and Conference held at the Four Points Sheraton Kitchener November 26-28 and met with great concern and support. The letters are currently available from the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) Office as well as on the OEF website: www.horse.on.ca
The Association of Riding Establishments of Ontario enhances the horse industry by promoting safety, animal welfare and education as well as providing support and marketing opportunities for equine stable operators in Ontario.
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