This letter would be more appropriately addressed to the publisher as Jim Cumming is due a big thank you from me for running his column last week about railroad taxation (or lack thereof) in Ontario.
So Jim, thanks.
With that said, I hope you will allow me to elaborate on this subject. I wish to start out by saying that all of what you said is true as I know it, and that you have pointed out some information that I was unaware of.
NOMA is the vehicle that has taken the message to the provincial government as I have, through them, twice been able to present our case to all parties. AMO is aware of the issue but has yet to push the question, as far as I know.
When I spoke to the governing Liberals, as well as the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, all parties agreed there is a disparity as to how tax is imposed upon right-of-way property in Ontario as compared to other jurisdictions.
When Ted McMeekin was the minister of municipal affairs and housing, he, in the presence of NOMA, asked the deputy minister of finance what the government could do about this oversight. We were told the government would look into the problem and ask the advice of the railway companies.
Minister McMeekin inquired as to what that would accomplish. That question went unanswered.
Both the PCs and the NDP do not understand why this tax revenue has never been pursued. They both agree that there is definitely a problem.
This taxation situation is a concern for all of Ontario, and not just NOMA and its associated municipalities. No municipality can attain its full tax potential from the railroad companies under the current tax structure as it is applied in Ontario.
Referring back to Minister McMeekin’s inquiry, the government has assembled a working group (of NOMA reps only) and has since requested input from the railroad companies.
The railway companies do not think that more taxation from them is a good idea. What a shock!
I do not believe that more taxation placed on the backs of residents of Ontario is a good idea, either, especially when a whole sector does not pay its fair share.
When does the government ask us if more taxation is a good idea?
AMO is in the midst of a project entitled, “What’s Next Ontario?”—where they are seeking input into the future prosperity of our communities. I have suggested that a fair tax system, where the railroad companies pay their fair share, would go a long way to future prosperity.
They have yet to consider the possibilities.
We, in Ontario, are missing out on hundreds of millions, if not billions, of tax dollars in revenue from railroad companies, on an annual basis, passing through our province.
I am not asking for any special treatment here; only that Ontario allows our municipalities to assess the railroad companies the same as our neighbouring western provinces.
Coun. Ken Perry
Fort Frances, Ont.