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Who owes $114,000? Building ownership battle confuses council

If someone does not pay tax arrears in two weeks, a downtown Bradford West Gwillimbury building could go up for sale
2019-04-17-bradford council leduc
BWG Deputy Mayor James Leduc at a council meeting. Jenni Dunning/BradfordToday

In a tale of two owners, Bradford West Gwillimbury council is giving someone two weeks to pay about $114,000 in tax arrears or the town will put a downtown property up for sale.

“Sooner or later this has to be dealt with,” said Coun. Peter Dykie Jr. at a council meeting Tuesday evening. “I don’t understand why the town has to be a banker on this.”

In an ongoing dispute, there has been a disagreement between the assessed owner of 10 Holland St. E., just east of Simcoe Road, and the commercial business tenant occupying the building, according to a town staff report.

“The assessed owner claims that the property was fraudulently registered in their name, while the commercial business tenant in occupation of the land claims that they are the owners as a beneficiary in a bare trust held by the assessed owner,” read the report.

“A letter from the tenants’ lawyer confirms that they have been involved in a lengthy court battle trying to resolve this matter. There does not appear to be an end in sight for the litigation.”

The parties, however, are seeking a court order allowing the property’s sale by the tenant, the report read.

This is the second time the town has had to start the process of a tax sale for that property since ownership changed in 2007.

In 2013, a sale was stopped when the tenant paid the full cancellation price just 12 days before the sale was going to be advertised, read the report.

Afterward, the tenant made “a few partial payments” but the property again fell into tax arrears, according to the report.

The assessed owner has never made an attempt to make tax-arrears payments, the report read.

Earlier this month, the tenant asked the town for an extension agreement, with promise of several post-dated cheques to pay the full $114,385 balance by the end of 2019, read the report.

“This has been going on for a long time. I don’t know why we have to go so far back to get $114,000 in taxes,” said Deputy Mayor James Leduc. “It’s not the first time this has happened, and it’s not looking like it’s going to end.”

“The rules are the rules. I really can’t support this,” added Coun. Gary Baynes.

Coun. Peter Ferragine said he is confused why the tenant would pay some tax costs if he or she is not the assessed owner.

“I don’t understand why it’s happening this way,” he said.

Someone has until June 5 to pay $114,385 or the town can move forward with a tax sale, although payments to stop that process can essentially be made up until the last minute, said the town’s treasurer Ian Goodfellow.

Council voted against an extension agreement, with Coun. Mark Contois the lone vote in favour.

“Pay your taxes — that’s all there is,” Leduc said.


Jenni Dunning

About the Author: Jenni Dunning

Jenni Dunning is a community editor and reporter who covers news in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
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