2021 Property Tax Policy Review
The Corporate Services Committee approved the 2021 County-wide tax ratios and class discounts and directed staff to prepare the necessary tax ratio by-law. The Committee also approved a number of programs that will continue in the 2021 taxation year, including tax relief for charities and other similar organizations, tax relief for low-income seniors and low-income persons with disabilities, and the Vacancy Rebate Program. The vacancy rebate and vacancy subclasses will be reviewed in 2021 with a further report to be presented to the Committee. No Optional Property Classes were recommended. The Committee amended the 2021 budget to include $15,500 for a consultant to provide an Assessment Roll Audit and Remediation Support which is to be funded from the Tax Stabilization Reserve and to be included in the 2022 budget through the regular budget process. The 2022 budget process will also include $16,200 for a consultant to provide an annual Property Tax and Tax Policy Study and Post Publication Support.
2020 Financial Statements Audit Beginning Soon
Bruce County will undergo an External Audit of the County’s consolidated financial statements for the year ending December 31, 2020 by BDO Canada LLP. The audit plan, presented to the Corporate Services Committee on February 18, 2021, highlights and explains key issues believed to be relevant to the audit including audit risks, the nature, extent, and timing of the audit work, and the terms of the engagement. The audit process will conclude with the presentation of a final report to members of the Corporate Services Committee, tentatively scheduled for May 6, 2021. The estimated cost of the audit will be $59,750.
Municipal Property Assessment Corporation 2020 Report
The Corporate Services Committee received the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) 2020 Municipal Partnerships Report. The report describes 2020 as a year like no other, where the provincial government postponed the 2020 Assessment Update. MPAC shifted priorities with minimal disruption to services, continuing to capture new assessment to support municipal tax bases, and offering a deferral of the municipal levy payment. MPAC’s Board of Directors approved the corporation’s 2021 operating budget, with a total municipal levy increase of 0% and no reductions to service. To further capture new assessment, MPAC found efficiencies, extended timelines, and captured an additional $4.6 billion in new construction and/or additions to existing property, bringing the total new assessment captured in 2020 to $37.3 billion. Discover more: https://news.mpac.ca/2020-municipal-partnerships-report
2021 Education Property Tax Rates
The Ministry of Finance has released the education property tax rates for 2021. The 2021 residential education tax rates will remain the same as 2020, as the property assessments for the 2021 taxation year remains unchanged from 2020. The 2021 business education tax rates will be reduced to 0.88% in 2021 in order to benefit business properties. The property assessment for businesses for the 2021 taxation year remains unchanged from 2020.
2021 Property Assessment Update
A province-wide assessment update took place in 2016 for the 2017 to 2020 property tax years. The valuation date for the properties was January 1, 2016. A new province-wide assessment update took place in 2019 for the 2021 to 2024 property tax years however the implementation of this new update has been delayed by the Province. As a result, the property valuations effective January 1, 2016 will continue to be used for the 2021 property tax year. Any new properties that have been added to the property tax roll since the January 1, 2016 valuation date have been added with a valuation amount as if the property had existed on January 1, 2016. It is not currently known when the next assessment cycle using the January 1, 2019 valuations will commence. Property assessment values for the 2021 taxation year remain the same as they were for the 2020 year for existing properties on the tax roll. Any new properties added in 2020 to the property assessment base are reflected in the change from 2020 to 2021.
2021 Notional Tax Rate Update
Notional tax rates are the tax rates that would raise the same amount of property taxes as the previous year while using the updated assessment roll information for the current year. As the total assessment value increases each year due to assessment value phase-in, the notional tax rate declines to keep revenues at the previous year’s level. While the notional tax rate has no impact on the respective tax rates, it is used to explain changes in the tax levies year over year. The notional tax rate is not used to establish the property tax rates that are used to raise the Council approved budget. The 2021 Notional Tax Rate, the residential tax rate for 2021 assuming the same levy requirement as 2020 applying the new assessment, reflects a residential tax rate of 1.11% less than the 2020 residential tax rate. The upper tier taxes per $100,000 assessment in 2020 was $398.70 compared to $394.32 based on 2021 assessment and 2020 levy requirement.
Campground Property redesignated as Rural Recreational
After a public meeting, the Planning and Development Committee approved an Official Plan Amendment that will create three residential lots on private services on an existing campground property on Isthmus Bay Road north of Lion’s Head. The Amendment also redesignates the lands from ‘Travel Trailer Park and Commercial Campground’ to ‘Rural Recreational’ to permit the lot creation to occur. A Zoning By-law Amendment (file Z-2020-074) was submitted to change the zoning to permit residential uses, permit slightly reduced lot frontage, and larger rear yard setback to keep development within the Niagara Escarpment Plan ‘Escarpment Recreation’ designation.
Severance on Undersized Farm Property
After a public meeting, the Planning and Development Committee approved an Official Plan Amendment that will create a 2.471 acre surplus farm dwelling lot with a 68.91 acre retained agricultural lot, located at 2403 Bruce Road 20 in Kincardine. Despite being undersized by Bruce County’s guidelines for agricultural viability, the retained agricultural lot will continue to be farmed in the same manner as it currently is. The amendment will allow the applicant to sever a house that is surplus to his needs while contributing to the ongoing viability of his farm operations. The irregular lot configuration of the smaller parcel was developed and proposed by the applicant to reduce the amount of land removed from agricultural production.
Severance on Pending Consolidated Farm Property
The Planning and Development Committee approved an application to sever an existing dwelling on Concession 6 in Arran-Elderslie that is surplus to a farm operation as a result of a pending farm consolidation. The farmland is being acquired by the owner of a farm located directly to the east and also to the north, across Concession 6. The proposed farm consolidation is strongly aligned with Bruce County Guiding Principles on Agriculture. Land consolidations improve the agricultural sector by enabling farms to become more efficient and better integrated in agricultural chains. The application aligns with the Homes Guiding Principle by maintaining the existing residential use on the severed lot.
ConnectON Agriculture Asset Mapping Data Sharing Agreement
The Planning and Development Committee approved the signing of the ConnectON Data Sharing Agreement with the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance. Agriculture is a key economic driver for Bruce County and one that the County is continuing to find ways to support. The more that is understood about this important sector of the economy, the better equipped economic development supports are to support it and help it to grow. The ConnectON tool enables users to analyze data and foster a fact-based approach to effective decision making on specific sector supports and growth area opportunities. Mapping and analyzing agri-food and manufacturing assets across Bruce County will contribute to effective planning, decision making and economic development relative to food and agriculture. Collaborating with neighbouring counties enables mapping of agriculture related assets in a single portal regionally.
Northern Bruce Peninsula Sustainable Tourism Advisory Group
The Sustainable Tourism Advisory Group (STAG) was formed in November 2020, with support from Bruce County Council. The group is tasked with advancing the Northern Bruce Peninsula Sustainable Tourism Management Action Plan. STAG’s mission is to work collaboratively across organizations, to leverage resources, to share expertise, and to implement the principles and practices of sustainable tourism management. STAG’s vision is to develop a thriving, collectively managed tourism economy on the Northern Bruce Peninsula. STAG provides a direct connection with Bruce County’s Explore the Bruce program, Tourism Innovation Lab, and Spruce the Bruce program. County Staff will continue to support and help the group execute initiatives so that the visitor experience holds a high standard for safety and enjoyment, in addition to supporting stewardship to the natural environment. Overcoming the challenges around communications, infrastructure, and capacity management is notably a collected effort.
Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Decisions
The Planning and Development Committee was informed of a recent Decision and a recent Order by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) on County Official Plan Amendments that were approved by County Council and appealed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
- OPA 243 Hopper (LPAT Case PL190553) Decision: In October 2019, County Council adopted County Official Plan Amendment No. 243 (OPA 243). The application was to create a site-specific exception in the Agricultural Area to allow a 50- acre lot to be severed. Council’s approval was appealed by the Province. On January 15, 2021, LPAT held a video hearing on the matter. The Tribunal issued its Decision on the matter on January 28, 2021 which states that “the Appeal is allowed and Official Plan Amendment No. 243 to the Official Plan of the County of Bruce is not approved.”
- OPA 246 Calhoun (LPAT Case PL 200086) Order: In January 2020, County Council adopted County Official Plan Amendment No. 246 (OPA 246). The application was to create a site-specific exception in the Agricultural Area to allow a 9-acre lot to be severed. Council’s approval was appealed by the Province. The applicant (Mr. Calhoun) recently advised LPAT in writing that they no longer wish to proceed with the application. On January 28, 2021, LPAT Ordered that “the appeal is allowed and the proposed Official Plan Amendment 246 is not approved.”
Planning Dashboard - Q4 2020
Application activity continued to increase in Bruce County in the fourth quarter of 2020 after a rebounding third quarter. The residential sector was very strong, with 60 new residential applications. The agricultural sector continued to be resilient with 19 agricultural applications, including 7 new farm consolidations. Residential lot creation was also strong to end the year, with 24 single-detached or semis and 24 townhomes. The potential population growth is 110. There were 10 industrial/commercial/institutional applications including an application to increase the maximum lot coverage to permit the construction of a grocery store in Tobermory. One local official plan amendment was made to redesignate commercial lands in South Bruce Peninsula to permit 3 residential lots.
Roadway Network Services Levels
The Transportation and Environmental Services Committee approved amending the Road Network Service Levels to address when a situation occurs that the County’s road network maintenance workforce is significantly reduced. The Committee also authorized the Director of Transportation and Environmental Services to temporarily declare a reduced maintenance event under exceptional circumstances when applicable. The COVID 19 pandemic brings forward the possibility where the workforce available for road network maintenance could be significantly reduced. A significant reduction will be defined as 20% reduction in the Operations Divisions workforce. This threshold was established based on an internal impact analysis by the County staff to forecast how services levels would be affected with reduced staffing levels. The Municipal Act does not address situations of reduced workforce and the County would still be responsible for operating and maintaining the road network to meet Ontario Minimum Maintenance Standards. The County Solicitor was consulted and provided notes explaining the burden of proof and the joint and several liability associated with the road network.
Speed Limit Change on Bruce Road 10, south of Tara
The Transportation and Environmental Services Committee approved the speed limit zone on Bruce Road 10 be changed from 80 kilometers per hour to 70 kilometers per hour from 370m south of Concession 6 in Arran-Elderslie and north for 1 kilometre to the current 50km/hr speed limit sign south of Tara. Transportation and Environmental Services are currently in the process of assessing the Bruce County Road Network to identify locations where the speed limit is reduced by more than 20 kilometers an hour in order that this aspect of traffic control is brought into compliance with design speed recommendations detailed on Transportation Association Canada (TAC) Guidelines.
Reallocation of Capital Funding to Blackwell Bridge and Steffler Culvert Projects
The Transportation and Environmental Services Committee approved that $405,000 will be transferred from Robinson B Line Bridge project to the Blackwell Bridge project and that $360,100 will be transferred from Sweiger Bridge and Bruce Road 40 Culvert Repair projects to Steffler Culvert Repairs. As the design and inspection process for Blackwell Bridge continues, it has been identified that the deterioration of certain elements of the bridge have become substantially worse than previously assessed. The funding transfer will ensure the necessary repairs required to Blackwell Bridge will be completed in 2021. The project to repair Robinson B Line Bridge will be postponed until 2022. Steffler Culvert, which has temporary timber supports serving as structural reinforcement and is deflecting under loads, requires additional funding due to the severity of the work required for the replacement.
Arran Township Shed Bridge near Invermay Closed
The Transportation and Environmental Services Committee approved the closure of the Arran Township Shed Bridge on Concession Road 6 near Invermay, which had been temporarily closed for the 2020-2021 winter season. The 33 metre single lane, single span steel truss bridge with a wooden deck was built in 1913 and was originally designed to accommodate horse and carriage traffic. Bruce County will have discussions with the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie about the potential for transfer of ownership of this bridge and a possible future conversion to pedestrian/bicycle use.
New Stop Sign and Parking Restriction at Inverhuron Intersection
The Transportation and Environmental Services Committee approved the installation of a Stop Sign at the intersection of Bruce Road 15 and Lake Street in Inverhuron. The Committee also approved the restriction of parking for a distance of 9 metres easterly from the newly installed Stop Sign. In 2021, the County will undertake a traffic count and an analysis of traffic flows to determine suitable adjustments to the road design or potential 4-way stop at this intersection, following the Transportation Association Canada (TAC) Guidelines.
Walkerton Intersection Traffic Study
In September of 2020, a camera safety study was carried out to provide a safety analysis at the intersection at McNab Street and Durham Street (Bruce Road 4) in Walkerton. The analysis by Transoft Solutions included a near miss analysis, intersection design analysis, video clips, and a technical report which provided recommendations for how to improve safety at this intersection. True North Safety Group (TNS) were also consulted to provide potential safety improvements and identified key safety issues like pedestrians crossing the road unsafely, illegal traffic movements from Tim Hortons onto Durham Street (Bruce Road 4), a right turn lane from McNab Street onto Bruce Road 4 which could be removed, and a warrant for traffic signals. Due to the planned Durham Street bridge replacement project scheduled for 2024/25, it is considered necessary to wait until the bridge work is under design and incorporate the intersection plans into that design. The bridge alignment may impact the road alignment meaning if any work was completed now, there may be changes needed later to tie into the new bridge. However, as pedestrian safety at the intersection is a major factor it is intended to initiate improvements to ensure pedestrian safety is addressed in the interim. This will be done by designing and installing a pedestrian crossing at the McNabb Street and Durham Street intersection. It is intended that this pedestrian crossing can be in place by 2022. Longer term recommendations include a redesign of the intersection and road approaches and the installation of traffic signals.
Capital Projects For 2021
The 2021 capital budget for the Bruce County Transportation and Environmental Services (TES) Department is $11,790,401. The delivery of the Capital programs (roads, bridges, fleet, equipment, facilities) is complete for 2020. The following is a list of capital projects for 2021.
- Cold in Place Recycling BR 3 and BR 4 east of Walkerton
- Micro Surfacing BR 2, BR 9, BR 19, and BR 29, West Road
- Widening and Rehabilitation BR 6 East Mildmay to Grey Road 10
- Cold in Place BR 8, from BR 14 to Sauble Beach
- Pulverize, pave, and safety improvement at intersection BR 8 and BR 13
- Replace Storm Sewer BR 15 Inverhuron
- BR 25 Improvements and BR 33 Realignment/New Construction. Phase 3 - BR 25 Bruce St to Goderich St
- BR 25 Improvements and BR 33 Realignment/New Construction. Phase 4 - BR 33- Ridge St to Hwy 21.
- Roundabout at BR 23 and Concession 2 Kincardine
- BR 6 Teeswater Property settlement
- New Signage BR 12 Formosa
- KIPP Trail Kincardine, Financial Contribution
- Reconstruction BR 30 Chesley
- Luminaires BR 2 and BR 3 intersection
- Luminaires BR 8 and BR 14 intersection
- Land Purchases at Hwy 9 and BR 1
- West Ridge Development Kincardine Phase 1
- Replace Durham St Bridge, BR 4, Walkerton
- Replace Steffler Bridge, BR 12 North of Belmore
- Replace Culvert BR 86 west of BR 7
- Arran Township Shed Bridge, Invermay
- Oswald Bridge Replacement
- Repair Blackwell Bridge BR 23
- Construction New McCurdy Bridge
- Replace Superstructure Reid Bridge, BR 6, West of Teeswater
- Replace Teeswater River Bridge BR 3 Paisley
- Repair Bridge BR 40 4 km west BR 3
- Repair Culvert BR 86 Lucknow east of Havelock St
- Road realignment BR 1 at Highway 9
- Resurface the Rail Trail between Walkerton and Mildmay.
This publication identifies highlights from recent Bruce County Council and Committee meetings. Bruce County’s Office of the CAO maintains complete agendas and minutes from all Council and Committee meetings, which can be reviewed at www.brucecounty.on.ca/government/agendas-and-minutes