No tax break for school
South Glengarry council unanimously turned down a request for a property tax break for a proposed international private school and dormitory in Summerstown last week.
Council heeded the recommendation by general manager of corporate services/treasurer Lachlan McDonald to deny the request “based on insufficient authority to do so.”
Following up on a council request made during the April 1 regular meeting for more time and information regarding the request from the owners of the Upper Canada Academy (UCA) for a capping of their annual property tax at $5,000 for a period of seven years, beginning in 2019, Mr. McDonald returned with a “further review” staff report last week.
“To ensure all available options were explored, Staff Report 41-2019 (presented at the April 1 meeting) was sent to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to inquire what options are available within the Municipal Act,” stated Mr. McDonald.
“Following the conversation, it was quite evident that our options are limited, to non-existent,” be said. “Ultimately, the Ministry stated that we have no authority to offer tax abatement to the UCA.”
Mr. McDonald added that after being “guided” by the Ministry to the Economic Development Services, and Tax Collection, portions of the Act – as well as the Planning
Act – he further determined that “we cannot offer help” to the proposed educational institution.
However, Mr. McDonald told council that the consortium behind the project “may be eligible for funding through the United Counties Regional Incentive Program.”
According to a mid-January presentation to South Glengarry council made by consortium member Jesse Ning, the Upper Canada Academy plans to spend almost $8 million between 2019 and 2022 on the property at 19119 County Road 2.
That site includes the “Cariboo” Cameron House/Fairfield House, built in 1865, and a building that served as a novitiate/retreat and apostolic boys school for the Catholic Churchaffiliated Legionaries of Christ from the mid1990s until June 2013.
According to Mr. Ning, by the middle of the next decade, the UCA would have 120 full-time boarders, 180 short-term students and 600 summer campers, as well as provide 30 full-time jobs and 30 to 40 part-time positions, “resulting
in over $2 million in direct annual injection into the local economy.” The previous South
Glengarry council approved a re-zoning application from the UCA group in August 2018.
PROMINENT SPOT: The school is to be established on the site of the former Fairfield mansion.