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Home prices have risen dramatically in Ontario since the last valuation in 2016.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

The Ontario government is planning to further delay the release of provincewide property assessments – on which property taxes are based – until after the June provincial election, municipal sources involved in government consultations tell The Globe and Mail.

Some municipal leaders are concerned that voters could get the new assessments in the middle of next fall’s municipal elections. Home prices have risen dramatically – upward of 50 per cent or more in some parts of the province – since the last provincewide valuation in 2016. Assessments are typically done every four years and mailed to homeowners starting in April, but were delayed in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The province’s plans are expected to be included in next month’s fall economic update in the form of a direction to the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., or MPAC, the arm’s-length agency that administers property assessments.

A rise in the value of a home does not necessarily mean a particular homeowner will pay more in property tax, as tax bills also depend on how much values increased or decreased in other neighbourhoods in a municipality. The assessed value used to calculate property taxes is then phased in, usually over four years.

The Ontario government’s March budget indicated it would hold consultations on the property assessment process and then communicate its new direction this fall.

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Two senior officials with two municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area say they have learned through consultations that the province is proposing to mail out 2022 property assessments to residents after the June 2 provincial election but before municipalities are on the ballot on Oct. 24. The sources said there are concerns in their mayors’ offices that the timing could cause sticker shock in the middle of municipal campaigns, in which soaring house prices could be a major issue. The Globe is not identifying the officials because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

As well, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, who said he had heard the assessments were coming in 2022, but did not know their precise timing, urged the provincial government to delay the assessments into 2023 to avoid an election year altogether.

“Listen, there’s no question that that would probably add a level of anxiety for people, at a time when so much has been changing in all our lives for the last 18 months,” Mr. Vrbanovic said in an interview.

The average sale price of a detached home in Kitchener-Waterloo was $963,646 in September, an increase of 25 per cent over the year before, according to the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors.

Mr. Vrbanovic said the big increases in property values over the past year meant staff at municipalities needed more time to analyze the numbers, once they arrived, to calculate tax rates and plan cities’ budgets.

“Trying to rush that, either before, between elections or whatever, probably does not make the most sense,” he said.

Emily Hogeveen, a spokeswoman for Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, said no formal decision has been made about any direction to MPAC. She said the government has been reviewing property assessment and taxation and seeking input from municipalities, taxpayers, industry and others on “the timing and valuation date for the next reassessment.” As outlined in the 2021 budget, she said the plan would be unveiled this fall.

A spokesperson for MPAC said the agency maintains an inventory of all properties and accounts for changes in their values.

“We remain in a strong position to deliver the next provincewide assessment update, whenever that may be,” MPAC spokesperson Paula Chung said in an e-mail.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario would not comment on the timing of the next round of assessments, but said it will work with the provincial government and MPAC when the time comes.

“We are confident that the Ontario government understands that municipal governments have a practical interest in making sure that MPAC’s property assessment update rolls out smoothly,” said AMO executive director Brian Rosborough in a statement.

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