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Monday, January 7, 2019

Survey on Vacant Property Rebate

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Owen Sound staff recommended end of tax subsidy for commercial/industrial property owners

Residents of Owen Sound are getting the chance to weigh-in on a controversial tax rebate program.

City staff say a formal survey has opened to garner feedback on the Vacant Unit Rebate Program, which allows owners of vacant commercial and industrial buildings to apply for a 30 per cent rebate on property taxes.

In 2017, the provincial government gave municipalities the flexibility to adjust or cancel vacant land and unit rebate programs to meet local needs.

"After careful review, city staff have recommended that the vacant unit rebate program be eliminated," a statement from City Hall explains.

Unless the results of the survey prompts changes of hearts, it appears there will be support to scrap the program once it comes to Owen Sound council.

During the municipal election campaign, Bayshore Broadcasting News asked candidates: should Owen Sound should continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property?

Deputy Mayor Brian O'Leary, and councillors Carol Merton, Brock Hamley, Richard Thomas and Marion Koepke were all in favour of ditching the vacancy rebate program.

Mayor Ian Boddy, as well as councillors Travis Dodd and Scott Greig did not commit to a stance.

Coun. John A. Tamming was the only one to offer support for the current vacancy rebate program when asked about it during the campaign period.

A formal survey form can be obtained online or at Owen Sound City Hall.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 15, 2019.

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