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Pure lunacy

Fort Frances Coun. Ken Perry must be applauded for his relentless efforts to highlight the ludicrous situation revolving around railroad taxation in Ontario.

As Coun. Perry repeatedly has pointed out in several letters to the editor over the past three weeks, Fort Frances currently receives just $3,623 annually from the CNR for right-of-way property taxes.

Yes, you read that right—$3,623. That’s less than what some homeowners and many small businesses here pay in property taxes each year.

The taxation formula for railroads is much different in Saskatchewan and Alberta. According to Coun. Perry, if Fort Frances was located in those provinces, it would receive $9,260,150 or $6,878,078 (respectively) from the CNR.

Clearly not pocket change—particularly for a community still reeling from the tax hit over the mill.

This doesn’t just impact Fort Frances. Other communities in Rainy River District, and right across Ontario, are in the same boat and similarly should be up in arms over being denied this lucrative source of revenue.

Yet the chorus of outrage remains strangely muted. Yes, the Northern Ontario Municipal Association has taken up the cause of late but here we are 112 years after former MPP H.J. Pettypiece raised the matter of railroad taxation to the Empire Club way back in 1904 and this gross inequity still hasn’t been rectified.

It’s high time the Ontario government realizes the pure lunacy of the current situation and takes steps to ensure cash-strapped communities can tap into this much-needed and definitely fair tax revenue.

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