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Property tax assessment notices not all bad news - good news is in the mail for Ontario private forest land owners says OFA

Wednesday, March 15th 2006 11:52:43am

Over 100,000 landowners eligible for Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program

(November 28, 2005) When property tax assessment notices arrive in the mail boxes of private forest land owners who are enrolled in the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP) over the next few weeks, they will have plenty to be thankful for. “A recent provincial decision means that the 10,000 landowners enrolled in MFTIP will receive average assessment reductions in the 20 to 30% range and some can be as high as 69%. This is the requested return for treating forest land assessment similarly to that of farmland,” said Carla Grant, Executive Director of the Ontario Forestry Association (OFA).

The ministers and staff of the Ontario Ministry of Finance and Natural Resources, the Premier’s Office and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Ontario Woodlot Owners and the Ontario Forestry Association, each played distinct roles and deserve praise for their efforts.

MFTIP landowners first learned of the improper assessment changes made to the program without notification or consultation by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), when assessment notices landed in November, 2002. Some MFTIP landowners faced massive tax assessment leaps ($25k to $183K and $3K to $30K).  It took two years of advocacy work by the Ontario Forestry Association and the Ontario Woodlot Owners Association to return MFTIP to its proper and useful status.

“We got what the OFA asked for: a return to being treated similarly to farmers under the property amassment program. Farmers and foresters are both stewards of the land, but forest landowners have an additional challenge of longer crop rotation periods, because most Ontario hardwood trees take 80 years to reach harvestable size,” stated Ms. Grant.

“MFTIP landowners are relieved the program has been fixed and is back on track,” noted Ms. Grant.   She went on to say, “MFTIP enrollment is not a free ride. It was designed to assist and encourage private woodlot owners who must make long-term investments in their forests. To enroll in MFTIP, you must have over 10 acres of forested land, prepare a management plan (at a minimum cost of usually $250-$500) which must be signed by a licensed agent, and agree to stay in MFTIP for 10 years.” More detailed information can be found at www.oforest.on.ca.

This change to the property assessment system undertaken by the provincial government is good public policy, concluded OFA past President, Anne Koven. She predicted, “The return to assessing private forested land like farmland will encourage landowners to reinvest in their forests. This will result in more rural employment in central and Northern Ontario, increased value of the forests, and more green space in both rural and urban areas, such as the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Greenbelt.”

For additional information or to arrange interviews with Ms. Koven or Ms. Grant, contact:
Don Huff, Environmental Communications Options @ 416-972-7404 or huffd@eco-site.com    

The Ontario Forestry Association is a non-profit, registered charity dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of all aspects of Ontario's forests, and to developing commitment to stewardship of forest ecosystems. The OFA has been involved in public education around forestry and environmental issues since the 1940s. Over the years, the OFA has been involved in major initiatives involving restoration, commemoration and the management of our forests and natural environment. To this day, the OFA continues to increase public education and knowledge of forestry and environmental issues.