A nearly 25-acre lot in Pasadena has been passed down through the Butler family for three generations.
Ches received the Midland Row property from his father as a wedding gift about 46 years ago. Ontario residents now, he and his wife Doris planned to put a cabin or a trailer on the unserviced lot after they retire. Eventually, it would be passed along to the fourth generation.
The Butler families didn’t consider it a problem to pay the annual tax — most recently at $200 — for the land, which was once home to cattle, pigs and rows of vegetable gardens.
This year, however, the bill came in at more than $1,100.
The Butlers called the Town of Pasadena, thinking it was a mistake, but were shocked that it was a new tax implemented in this year’s budget. The minimum for a vacant lot is now $450, and $45 per acre for every acre over 10.
Doris referred to it as extortion, and said the amount is ludicrous. The property has a lot of personal meaning for Ches, and contains many happy memories.
“We were so upset,” he said. “We are just not going to give it away.”
The increase of more than 500 per cent is unacceptable to the couple, who wrote a letter of objection to the town.
The couple is considering legal avenues if a resolution cannot be reached.
“On the face of it, this tax appears to be arbitrary and disproportionately unfair to a small minority of taxpayers,” Doris said.
Glynn Vincent, who owns the adjacent property to the Butlers, also thought it was a mistake when he received his bill. He paid $200 for two pieces of land at nearly 50 acres.
Vincent received a bill totalling $2,232 — an 1,116 per cent increase — in early January. He too contacted the town. He said he was told the tax was implemented to promote development. He is confused by the response.
He contacted around 20 municipalities across the province and said Pasadena had gone above and beyond all others with this tax hike. The taxes on vacant land elsewhere ranged from $20 to $500, according to Vincent, with some having an amount depending on the mill rate and assessed value.
He once farmed the land, but now likes to spend time there in the summers planting vegetables and growing flowers.
“They are taxing me out of my land,” he said. “It is unacceptable.”
Vincent is also considering his options before paying the total amount.
Pasadena Mayor Otto Goulding said the change was implemented after council reviewed its tax structure. He said they have received a number of complaints and concerns.
“As with any tax increase, people are not happy with paying more,” he said.
Council is reviewing the change, and has until March 31 to amend any new budget items, the mayor said. He would not comment on whether it was expected to change or remain the same.