City considering changes to vacant and excess land tax discount program

Have your say!

Guelph, Ont., May 15, 2019—The City is asking residents and taxpayers to weigh in on potential changes to the vacant and excess land tax discount program before staff takes a recommendation to Council this summer.

A survey, posted on, asks the public’s opinion on the future of the commercial and industrial vacant and excess land subclass tax discount program. The City of Guelph currently gives a 30 per cent tax rate discount to 229 properties totalling $925,000, which is funded by all other taxpayers.

“Our goal is to ensure fair and transparent property tax programs,” says Greg Bedard, supervisor, Property Tax. “Recent changes from the Ontario government allow us to review and adjust tax programs to achieve a more equitable distribution of property taxes.”

Considering the options

The City is reviewing three options for the future of the program:

  • keep the current tax rate discounts
  • eliminate the discounts in 2020
  • phase out the discounts over two years, starting in 2020

Visit the vacant and excess land subclass tax rate discounts web page to understand how the options outlined in the survey will affect all property owners in the City of Guelph.

How the City will use the survey results

The City will summarize the results of the survey in a report to be presented to Council this summer. The report will also contain staff recommendations for the future of the program for Council to consider.

The survey is open until May 26.


In Ontario, property assessments are classified into different classes and subclasses, depending on the property’s use, and property taxes are based on these assessments. City Council sets the tax rate for each class and subclass based on the budget.

Previously, the Ontario government required municipalities to give tax rate discounts to commercial and industrial property owners who have vacant or excess land. Amendments to the Municipal Act outlined in Bill 70, Building Ontario Up for Everyone Act (Budget Measures), 2016, gives municipalities the option to make changes to vacant and excess land subclass discounts. This allows municipalities to determine the best way to ensure all property owners pay their fair share.

For more information

Visit the vacant and excess land subclass tax rate discounts web page for more information about the program, including how properties are classified as vacant or excess.

Media Contact

Greg Bedard, Supervisor, Property Tax
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3473
[email protected]