Tax Notices: Update from RCA President

Message from Dr. David Colby:

I suspect that all of you have received you Property Tax notices in the mail. These tax notices were expected, but will cause a lot of angst.

I shall have our lawyer, David Kirwin, assist with some advice to members,  especially if any direct action is needed at this time.  Mr Kirwin has been preparing the appeal for some time. I have met with him recently and all is under control. Our position is that we are NOT liable for these new taxes.

The main message right now is “Don’t Panic, Don’t Pay”, our lawyer is on it. We have a strong case.  We are also asking Rick Nicholls for an urgent meeting. Be assured, the Association will lead a fully coordinated and professional response

– Dr. David Colby, RCA President

 

Message from RCA Vice President Brian French:

 

Property tax invoices are being received by all Rondeau cottage owners this week, with payment due within 30 days.  To be clear, the MNR expects us all to pay this new property tax bill in addition to the previously-billed lease fee and service fee invoice.  In the case of my family cottage, our total amount owing is $5,136.82 (taxes of $2,308.83 + lease of $2,406.93 + service fee of $421.06).  In most cases the new property tax owing will approximately equal your lease fee.  And for those who like math, our “mill rate” is 0.0153922%.  So if you haven’t received your new tax bill yet, you can calculate what it will be by multiplying MPAC’s assessed value by 0.0153922.  This matches Chatham-Kent’s posted mill rate for rural residential properties in the former Harwich Township.

As much as receiving a new bill for several thousand dollars is a shock, this is exactly what the RCA has been anticipating for several years;  even the mill rate was exactly what we expected.  RCA President Dr David Colby and our lawyer Mr David Kirwin have been discussing our response to this for months and we are well prepared to fight it.  The core elements of our argument being the very propriety of the MNR’s attempt to alter the terms of our Crown Lease to impose a new payment, rather than disputing the actual valuations assigned by MPAC…

  • Our Crown Lease does not require us to pay property taxes, period.
  • All expected payments & increases are specifically itemized in our Crown Lease;  the MNR cannot reasonably argue “they forgot to include it”.
  • Property tax payments were excluded when our current lease was being negotiated;  tax payments were deemed to be included in the lease fees.
  • We have a memo on file signed by the Ontario Parks Managing Director stating“Rondeau cottagers do not pay property tax.”
  • We have a memo on file signed by the Ontario Parks Managing Director stating“Your annual Service Fee covers what property tax would normally cover.”

Not to mention we have an email on file from the MPAC’s local assessor stating that the“MNR directed MPAC to value the cottages as if they were located outside of the park”which is not only in violation of MPAC’s charter, but it crosses the line into conspiracy to commit fraud.  (If the MNR directed MPAC to value our cottages as if they were in downtown Toronto, would MPAC have done that too?  MPAC is required to assess properties as they are, where they are.  Unbelievable.)

At this point please just “stay tuned” for further instructions, which will be sent in the coming days after Dr Dave has spoken with Mr Kirwin.  But just to give you a heads-up — we are probably going to be asking each of you to make a phone call.

And if I may make a personal observation, I have been the RCA’s unofficial archivist for well over a decade and I have been copied on literally thousands of emails & documents in that period of time.  I have seen the MNR, Ontario Parks, and their local staff lie, cheat, and steal.  I have seen them bend just about every law that they can find to suit their advantage — and then lose when it’s challenged in court.  I have seen one of their employees — in uniform — commit perjury on the witness stand during his own criminal trial.  I have seen one of their few honest employees quit her job and walk away from Rondeau in disgust.  I have seen their lawyers try to claim that meetings they attended never occurred;  that agreements that were reached were never discussed.  I have seen them assign a formal complaint about a senior bureaucrat’s poor attitude & behavior to that same bureaucrat to investigate himself.  But above all of this, I have never yet seen anything that makes be believe they have the slightest clue what they are doing in/with/to Rondeau.  If I thought for a moment that they had a “grand scheme” for Rondeau I might actually afford them some respect.  Nope.  What was once the finest provincial park in Ontario is just a shell of its former self; collateral damage in the MNR’s relentless, single-minded war against people enjoying their park.  It is all so very sad.