UPDATE: Mississauga mayor changes her mind on property tax relief
Mississauga city councillors have voted overwhelmingly to forgive property taxes for 33 homeowners displaced by an explosion on Hickory Dr last June.
Councillors voted 10-1 to offer homeowners a grant on the city portion of their annual tax bills from the day they were forced out until they are able to move back in.
Chris Fonseca, the councillor for the area says some residents expect to be out of their homes until December, 18 months after the blast.
Fonseca intends to push the Region of Peel to waive their portion of the tax bill as well.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie was one of the 10 votes in favour of the grant, even though she voiced her opposition of giving relief on taxes on NEWSTALK 1010's Moore in the Morning.
"That is our only source of revenue at the city," she told John Moore.
At the council meeting, she also spoke against forgiving the property taxes.
"If today we do it for one group, then tomorrow it's flood victims, then it's fire victims, it could open those doors," Crombie said.
She later tweeted that council "voted for compassion."
After listening to Council, in particular @Chris_Fonseca3, I voted in favour of the grant for displaced Hickory residents.— Bonnie Crombie 🙋🏼 (@BonnieCrombie) March 1, 2017
Crombie told host Jim Richards she changed her mind after new information was presented at the meeting, including that the residents' property values haven't yet been reassessed, or lowered because of the damage.
The tax grant will only cover 30 per cent of the owners' tax bills, the portion that goes to the city. The other 70 per cent would have to be granted by the province and Region of Peel.
Region chair Frank Dale tells NEWSTALK 1010 he would be in favour of also giving the residents a break on the region's portion, when the matter will come up at a meeting next week.
"I believe that regional council would certainly on humanitarian grounds consider the same," Dale says. "I actually applaud mayor Crombie and councillor Fonseca acting upon the concerns of the families that have been displaced."
Crombie has also been calling on the province to step in and profide disaster relief.
The ministry of municipal affairs, though, says the relief fund only applies to natural disasters like flooding, and is not meant to replace insurance.
The ministry has advised the city that they have three options under the Municipal Act: they can waive the property taxes, issue a grant or provide tax relief.