Hamilton City Hall Credit: Joey Coleman

Ontario’s Assessment Review Board dismissed a key City of Hamilton motion in the ongoing property tax appeal filed by Cadillac Fairview regarding the assessed value of Lime Ridge Mall.

Lime Ridge Mall is Hamilton’s largest single property tax account.

In a ruling released this week, Adjudicator Carly Stringer of the ARB dismissed the City’s motion seeking documents from Cadillac Fairview because the City of Hamilton failed to meet numerous deadlines for filing, and failed to provide the ARB with explanations for its non-compliance with both deadlines and Tribunal rules.

In summary, on June 30, 2021, the City sought disclosure of financial information from Cadillac Fairview regarding the profitability of Lime Ridge Mall.

On July 12, 2021, CF agreed to provide all the requested information (including “confidential financial information, such as rent rolls and leases”) to the City of Hamilton with the standard condition that the City agree to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to ensure the confidentiality of the disclosed information.

Back and forth occurred between CF and the City during August to reach an agreement regarding the terms of the NDAs.

“On September 9, 2021, the City asked Cadillac Fairview if it would agree to personal undertakings rather than a confidentiality agreement. Cadillac Fairview responded on September 15, 2021, that it would agree if the City’s lawyer and City staff with access to the information sign the NDA,” states the ARB ruling.

“The City did not provide copies of personal undertakings, nor did it otherwise respond to Cadillac Fairview for some time.”

On December 1, 2021, the City and CF agreed to a revised timeline for the City to provide the NDAs, CF to provide disclosure, and further legal deadlines for response and replies regarding the case.

The City failed to meet the timelines, by over a month in some instances.

On March 11, 2022, the City brought a motion for disclosure before the ARB.

This motion was dismissed in this week’s ruling.

Even in this motion, the City failed to file its evidence and failed to meet deadlines.

“The City has not provided a reply to Cadillac Fairview’s request to dismiss this motion due to non-compliance with the SOE. The City has not made reference to exceptional circumstances in its affidavit evidence on this motion, nor has the City made submissions on exceptional circumstances,” writes Adjudicator Stringer.

“The SOE [Schedule of Events] required the City to bring a request for any additional disclosure from MPAC by February 19, 2021, and complete any motions for disclosure from MPAC by March 19, 2021. The City did not comply with these deadlines, nor has it provided the Board with an explanation for its non-compliance. The City has not provided the Board with evidence of exceptional circumstances warranting an extension to this deadline in the SOE. Accordingly, the Board will not alter the deadline in the SOE for completing a motion for disclosure from MPAC.”

Adjudicator Stringer wrote bluntly of the City’s repeated failure to meet requirements in the case.

“The Board denies the City’s motion for disclosure.”

The main appeal remains ongoing, and the City will have to try to argue against CF’s appeal, potentially without critical information.

The cost to the City’s tax revenue is not yet known, it will only become known once the final tax assessment appeal is heard and ruled upon.

Production Details
Current Version: 1.0.0
First published: June 9, 2022
Last edited: June 9, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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