St. Catharines, Niagara Falls at the higher end of property tax survey


Published November 9, 2022 at 3:09 pm

Neighbourhoods is St. Catharines, such as Old Glen Ridge, are taxed at a slightly higher tax than their counterparts in Niagara Falls.

When real estate website, Zoocasa, looked at the property tax rates for 35 separate Ontario cities, the two Niagara Region cities they included – St. Catharines and Niagara Falls – didn’t fare overly well.

In actual fact, St. Catharines clocked in with the seventh highest property tax rate while Niagara Falls was not far behind at 11th.

Larger urban centres like Toronto, for example, can offer a lower rate due to the greater number of taxpayers and higher housing prices.

However, smaller suburban communities, especially those with a rural component (most of Niagara’s municipalities) will have higher tax rates due to a smaller population and fewer resources for the area.

To that end, while Toronto has a tax rate of 0.631933 per cent, St. Catharines is higher at 1.415405 per cent while Niagara Falls clocks in at 1.346015 per cent.

That means a home worth $500,000 in St Catharines would have an annual municipal tax bill of $8,964.55. In Niagara Falls, a half million dollar house would face a yearly bill of $8,614.50.

Meanwhile in Toronto, a $500,000 house would pay just $6,907.64 in annual taxes. The hook there? A half million dollars will buy people a lot more house in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls than it will in Toronto.

Now before residents start grabbing their picket signs and camping on the doorsteps of their respective Niagara-area City Halls, it’s not exactly the fault of area politicians as several factors come into play.

First of all, tax bills are determined primarily on the home’s assessed value and that is determined by a provincial body, MPAC or the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

MPAC employees literally roam neighbourhoods, looking at factors such as the size of your lot, its overall condition, whether or not there have been structural changes or renovations, and whether or not it has a basement or pool.

They also take into account the values of comparable properties in your neighbourhood. In the end, what MPAC decides your home is worth is the entire foundation on which your taxes are based.

So here’s the really bad news. MPAC usually evaluates the value of homes every four years. However, due to the pandemic, property value assessments have been frozen until 2024, meaning 2016 levels are still applied. Come 2024, there is going to be some serious sticker shock when the new property assessments finally come into the picture.

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