What are your thoughts about the ability of seniors to defer property tax?
It's a tricky one. It's better for seniors in general to age in place, in their communities, and to a point good for the community as well. It's not really their fault that their house values shot up and their property taxes with it. On the other hand, if my street is any indication, that's a lot of valuable real estate people in the hands of 80-somethings that is not being well-used.... the elderly lady who previously owned my house could only use the main floor of it when she sold.
The question is also how much money is being deferred to support seniors aging in place? (I actually don't think we have this program in Toronto... though relatively speaking, we have cheap residential property taxes.) So my question would be, what is the impact of the issue? And then, does it outweigh the benefit?
As Max noted, the vacant storefront loophole means there are spaces in the east end being unused for no good reason... if restaurants and businesses and community groups moved in there, it would be better for the community than the current situation, and currently I'm not aware of any good reason why these are being left unrented aside from "I make more money by not taking in any rent than taking in a low rent." That's ludicrous.
I actually don't mind the vacant storefront loophole in general in that (I assume) it arose during the late 80s/early 90s, when the recession hit and mortgage interest was 18%, and no one could get retail tenants at any price, and those you could get usually couldn't pay the rent at all... a lot of commercial property owners were struggling and being foreclosed upon. The tax break gave a little bit of relief to help prevent properties from going derelict which also would have been bad for the community; the problems is that it should have been renewable and time-limited (say, 5 year terms.)