Happy New Year Bay Ward!
The Bay ward team has been busy responding to residents’ phone calls and emails regarding the City’s Vacant Unit Tax (VUT) that was launched earlier this week.
The declaration period for the Vacant Unit Tax opened on January 4 for property owners to declare the 2022 occupancy status of their residential properties, and the on-line portal to support the declaration went live at the same time. As of noon, this afternoon there have been over 44,000 completed declarations.
There were a number of technical issues that were identified on January 4 that have since mostly been resolved. In addition to this the call centre are adjusting their staffing levels accordingly to accommodate the high volume of callers and have started providing updated automated messaging for callers who are waiting.
A second notice for the declaration will be sent to residential property owners next week – which will include their roll number, access code and more information on how to declare. In order to meet the January 9, 2023 mailout date, these letters were generated prior to the end of the year, so those who have already declared will be included in the mailout. Property owners who have already completed the declaration can disregard the second notice. Residents registered with MyServiceOttawa can go directly to the declaration from their property tax account.
The VUT is focused on freeing up units in Ottawa for housing, as well as creating a new source of funding for affordable housing – both are things Ottawa can use more of as we work toward a more liveable city for everyone. My office held an information session for residents on the VUT back in November that included a presentation and Q and A session with City staff. The recording of this session can be found here.
I will be recommending that the city extends the deadline for declaration past March 16, 2023, and search for a solution going forward to ensure an easy “renewal” process for the coming years in order to ease the onus on residents across Ottawa.
A Public Service Announcement is scheduled for delivery on January 9th and a Feature Story will be published later next week to respond to some common questions that have emerged. I will be sure to share this in my next newsletter. Until then further information on the VUT is available at www.ottawa.ca/vut.
Going forward this is going to be a very busy year for my team and I as I am sitting on several City Council committees, including, Audit, Community Services, Environment and Climate Change, Planning and Housing, Light Rail Sub-Committee, Ottawa Board of Health, this is in addition to being the Chair of the Ottawa Community Housing Board. I look forward to the engagement and work ahead as there is a complimentary cross section with each of these.
New year means new budget. We are gearing up for a joint pre-budget consultation meeting on February 16 to be held at Ben Franklin Place with my colleagues Councillor Laine Johnson of College Ward and Councillor Sean Devine of Knoxdale-Merivale Ward. More details on this and the City draft budget for 2023 can be found here.