Heritage in trees and buildings

Thanks  to two excellent presentations during the past two weeks I have had my eyes & ears opened to some new concepts & issues about heritage—the valuing of it, the respecting of it, the learning from it.

On 3/20 the Historical Society hosted a presentation about Heritage Trees.  Yes trees.

What is a heritage tree?  Factors are numerous including its physical characteristics:  age, health, type/specimen; and its role in the cultural story of its location, its history.  Imagine a tree that is not only on the Carrying Place Trail but was a marker for the traders and missionaries and others using the trail!

At our recent 3/21 Council meeting there was an excellent informative presentation by the Heritage Committee.  A couple insights. (more…)

No Change to Gas Pipeline Route

March 21 Ontario Energy Board rendered its decision to not re-open a review of the gas pipeline to supply the York Energy Centre.  From my reading of their decision their critical decision factor is that King Township had not registered as an intervener in the original proceedings; and then waited nearly 8 months after the decision in April 2010 to ask for a review.  (Recall:  I tabled the motion December 20, 2011 to ask for this review.)

You can read the OEB decision here. Legal Counsel for the current Council made a good effort to explain why the Township had acted or not acted as it did; but, the OEB did not buy it.

Enbridge previously indicated willingness to meet with public to review the project once OEB decision rendered; I anticipate that a meeting will be announced soon and will keep you posted.


Sustainability…….  Everyone is doing it.  Today in my “traditional” mailbox (i.e. the one covered in wet snow) I received a mailing from a well known global consumer products company with an update on their sustainability plan.  And sure, as happens, once everyone is doing it, it is easy to pick out those who haven’t done a good job; and those who are merely putting on a good show of doing it.  That doesn’t mean the concept lacks value.  I would suggest that it simply illustrates that as with everything there are good executions and bad ones.

In case you are wondering what I am talking about:  sustainability is about survival, it is about meeting our needs today BUT without harming the ability of future generations to survive, to meet their needs.

I am going to be writing about sustainability on a regular basis.

Here is the first thing I said about this topic earlier. King Township has decided to develop and execute an integrated sustainability plan.  It is the way we will evolve.

Given our very weak financial position it is quite clear that we need to start running this place differently!  And for sure, my value system is such that I do not want to harm the ability of future generations to meet their needs by doing what is easiest and most comfortable for me.

Over time there will be numerous opportunities for citizen participation in developing our integrated sustainability plan and then living & executing it.  Right now we need Ambassadors and people to join working groups.  If you haven’t seen the advertisement in the local papers or to get more information visit the Township’s website.

I am optimistic about King’s ability to embrace sustainability.  There are many independent sustainability successes to brag about already; what we need to do is get everyone onto to the same page and to streamline the effort.  Council’s deferral on nominating members to the Township traditional committees is in recognition of the need to streamline.

Is 13.9% tax increase really necessary?

The prospect of an increase of 15% on King Township’s portion of the property tax is eliciting a range of responses from residents:  “….any increase greater than inflation (i.e. 2-3%) is unacceptable;” “…is 15% enough?”   As a variation, some argue that 15-20% is probably justifiable but they wonder whether it would be better to do something like 10%/year for several years as opposed to making the correction in one blow.

First to remind people:  a 13.9% increase on King portion of property tax means a blended tax rate of 5.14%.

For a house with MPAC assessment of 516,000 this amount to an approximate annual increase of $274 or $22.83/month.

For an assessed value of $750,000 this amounts to an approximate annual increase of $400 or $33.33/month

I continue to believe that ~15% is very necessary. I can see that spreading it out over a couple years might be a better plan but I am doubtful.  I ask:  why will it be easier next year?

A number of factors drive me to this conclusion. (more…)

Tax Rate Proposal

A 13.9% increase on King portion of property taxes is recommended in the 2nd draft budget and business plan for King.   Below are the 3 tax scenarios I presented in an earlier posting.  To the right I have added the increase proposed in the 2nd draft budget.

King portion of property tax #1 #2 #3 Proposed in 2nd draft budget
%  increase





$ increase on annual tax* 121 150 240 227
$ increase on annual tax** 180 225 360 335

*estimate; based on average King residential property with MPAC assessment of $516,000

**estimate; based on King residential property with MPAC assessment of $750,000

What does a 13.9% increase on King portion of property tax mean to the total rate?

  • Based on the York Region increase being 1.9% and the Education increase being flat, the new blended rate increase is estimated at 5.14%.
  • For a residential property with an assessed value of $516,000 this amounts to an approximate annual increase of $274 or $22.83/month.
  • For an assessed value of $750,000 this amounts to an approximate annual increase of $400 or $33.33/month.

Executive summary of budget is here.

Details of budget and business plan is here.

Program changes (i.e. new projects) are detailed here (both the rationale for implementing and the magnitude of expenditure) and program changes considered but not included in the budget.

2011 Capital Budget details are here.   10 year capital plan is here.

Monday March 7 at 6PM there is a Special Committee of the Whole.  The Public is encouraged to attend and ask questions. Approval of the budget is scheduled for March 28th Council.

Several “big ticket” expenditures have jumped out at me:

Like last year there is $840,000 for debt payment (principal and interest).  Last year only $500,000 was funded by taxes; remainder ($340,000) was taken out of reserves.  This year, there are no funds available from the reserves; it all needs to be funded from the operating budget i.e. from taxes.

A contingency of $500,000 has been built into the operating budget to cover appeals from Golf Courses given the precedent setting MPAC re-assessments.  To understand this issue see page 28 and 29 of the budget report.

Wisely, in my opinion, 1% of township tax rate is being put into infrastructure reserves.  We must be doing this every year.