North Perth council defers decision on Perth Meadows fee changes pending legal advice

·3 min read

NORTH PERTH – After concerns were raised by Coun. Matt Richardson, council deferred approval of the 2021 operating budget for Perth Meadows.

The budget, which includes a two per cent increase to life leases and monthly rent, effective June 1, was being presented at the March 15 council meeting by Lois McLaughlin, Chair of the Perth Adult Life Care Residence Committee.

Richardson brought attention to the rent freeze by the provincial government.

“It’s legislated by Ontario that they can’t increase rent for 2021,” he said. “There’s a moratorium on that as of right now.”

Frances Hale, director of finance, said the rates would become effective but the province could supersede it.

Richardson suggested they get another opinion to avoid being challenged on the issue.

“Not that I want to go to legal every time but if there is an opportunity … that it could be challenged … I just want to make sure we are in our legal framework to do so,” he said. “Is it the time to do so given all the other exceptions that the town is giving for some COVID relief?”

Hale said that if council was uncomfortable the fees could be left as they are.

“I just felt that moving forward with the indication that the fee change would be in place and then we could move forward with the next one the following year because certainly inflationary costs – we’re going to have to catch up at some time,” she said.

Coun. Terry Seiler said that Perth Meadows wants to remain competitive in what can be offered to residents in comparison to new developments in North Perth.

“I certainly wasn’t questioning the need to at some point increase the rates to keep things current,” said Richardson. “But we also want to be adherent to legislation that we currently have… I’m looking at the Ontario website now and it’s for rented houses, apartments and condos, basement apartments, care homes including retirement homes, land lease communities, rent geared to income units and affordable housing units – even if it was a quick consult with the tenant board… If we can do it I’m all in favour of it but I just want to make sure we are not going to get into a legal quagmire with it later on.”

Hale told council there would be no financial implications at this time if they were to defer approving this budget until April as the increase in fees would not come into effect until June 1.

“In the interim maybe we could have a board meeting as well just to go over some of the details,” she said. “We could certainly get that legal opinion on the life leases if you would like.”

Mayor Todd Kasenberg said that Richardson’s opinion is valid and prudent.

“I just want to echo Coun. Richardson’s concerns,” said Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen. “I fully support his concerns and feel that we should be seeking legal (advise) on this. I don’t feel this type of budget really would be supported in terms of raising rent and life leases. I think that we could get ourselves into some issues because of other legislation that supersedes.”

Council deferred decision on the 2021 Perth Meadows operating budget and fee changes pending legal advice.

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner