Heritage designation on Dalhousie St property questioned

By Karen Fallon

Debate sparked when council considered rebate payment for the years 2008 through 2010 for additional properties deemed eligible under the Heritage Property Rebate Program.

Councillor Diane Pouget made a motion that all the rebates be paid except for 252 Dalhousie Street and that this property be sent back to the heritage committee for “full investigation.”

Pouget says her concern is that “some people” are asking for rebates for 2008 and they “weren’t even living there at the time.”

There are people who are concerned that the Dalhousie St. building has been altered, says Pouget.

“They have built an extra floor and fifteen feet out to the west and that is what my concern is,” said Pouget. “We want to make sure this is properly designated.”

Owners of property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and subject to a heritage conservation easement agreement can be eligible to receive a 40% refund of the taxes for municipal and school purposes levied on their eligible heritage property.

According to a report by treasurer Paul Beneteau, for the 2010 taxation year, there were 51 properties within the Town designated by LACAC – Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee  – under the Heritage Act.

In Amherstburg 38 properties made application under the Heritage Tax Rebate Program for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Thirty-six properties, says Beneteau,  are eligible for the rebate based on the Heritage Committee’s recommendations.

The total rebate for the eligible properties is: $65,585.62. The municipal share of this is $33,123.05, the county portion is $18,633.88, and the school boards gets $13,828.69.

The municipal portion of all tax write offs including all rebates to date is $46,996.37 for

2010. The 2009 budgeted amount for write offs is $ 130,000.

CAO Pam Malott says  she believes the issue with the back years is that the properties had yet to be assessed, a matter which has since been addressed by MPAC.

In an effort to clarify the issue councillor John Sutton inquired of treasurer Paul Beneteau whether it was in the jurisdiction of council to deny a refund to property which has a legal heritage designation.

In response Beneteau noted that it was his understanding that the town did not have any legislative authority to deny a rebate to the building.

Sutton says he wants to ensure that council was working to “the letter of the law and not exposing itself to potential litigation.”

Council members, says CAO Pam Malott, were sent a “large” package of information on the history of the property including the registered easement on the property and the current by-law that is in effect.

Even if council were to make changes to the current heritage tax rebate by-law those changes would not be in effect until the 2011 year, says Malott.

“The heritage committee’s role in approving any heritage tax rebates is very limited,” said Malott. “The heritage committee does not approve heritage tax rebates, this is at the discretion of council.”

“What the heritage committee does is review the properties that have applied for the rebate are in compliance with the parameters that are set out for the program,” she continued.

“This property that you are referring to, the Dalhousie Street property and condos has previously received these rebates and council by its own authority through its own by-law does not have any jurisdiction to deny those properties,” said Malott.

In a recorded vote councillors: Carolyn Davies, Diane Pouget, Bart DiPasqualie and Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland voted for the motion. Those against were councillors John Sutton, Robert Pillon and Mayor Wayne Hurst. Pouget’s motion passed.

Comments are closed.