Edmonton property taxes ‘so far out to lunch’ compared to other cities: businessman

A file photo of homes for sale in Edmonton.
A file photo of homes for sale in Edmonton. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

The one-time financial advisor for Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and others faithfully checks the box scores in the paper. Only this time, it’s not the sports section that has caught the eye of Ian Barrigan; it’s been the Globe and Mail real estate section.

READ MORE: 2018 Edmonton tax increase set at 3.5%

Every Friday, Barrigan has noted three feature listings from other parts of Canada and has checked the listing price and the property taxes.

“I did every property for that period of time, that three months, and that’s what’s created these numbers,” he said in an interview with Global News on Tuesday.

Then being the numbers guy he is, Barrigan calculated the property tax per $100,000 of the listing. The scorecard doesn’t look good.

His baseline for Edmonton is The Pearl on Jasper Avenue — with $869 in property taxes for every $100,000 — and on a property his company has a 75 per cent stake in on 104 Avenue and 107 Street that comes in at $1,281 at that same rate.

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For Toronto, eight properties range from $186 to $481 in property taxes for every $100,000. For Vancouver, a bunch were in the $175-to-$195 range, including a downtown condo. In the suburbs, the listings he used to calculate a $100,000 rate saw New Westminster come in at $306 and $341; and Burnaby at $387.

“The ones you’ll find startling are the Vancouver ones,” Barrigan said from his Manulife Tower office.

“We would have assumed those property taxes would have been double ours instead of a quarter.”

“We’re just so far out to lunch and we’ve got people fighting to say don’t raise the property taxes this year. It’s not a matter of raising them; we should be working on reducing them.”

One Ottawa property was in Edmonton’s range — an Orleans listing that works out to $956 in taxes per $100,000. Two from Quebec were also high: in Dorval at $883 and Longueuil at $755.

For Calgary, a Beltline property compared at $654 and another in Mount Pleasant was $558.

READ MORE: Edmonton city councillor calls for budget cuts, but wants them listed first

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Another set of tax stats, compiled by Zoocasa, were released Tuesday. The brokerage ranked property tax rates in 24 housing markets in Alberta.

In that data set, Edmonton sits in the middle of the pack, rated 14th on houses assessed at $250,000, $500,000 and $1 million.

To compare, Zoocasa calculated that a homeowner living in Grande Prairie (which has the highest property tax rate in the province at 1.48 per cent) would pay $4,767 more in tax on a home assessed at $500,000, compared to a resident in Fort McMurray, where the property tax rate is the lowest at 0.47 per cent.

Councillor Andrew Knack, who asked the city to look at what the numbers would be to reduce taxes, said he’ll ask about comparing Edmonton to other metro locations during the budget process.

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He told Global News he’s interested if this is an apples-to-apples comparison. He wonders if what is in the upper percentile in Edmonton would be middle of the pack in Toronto or Vancouver.

“That would make sense that a $1 million home in Edmonton would likely pay more in property taxes than a $1 million home in Vancouver because that home is closer to the average, whereas a $1 million home here is more out of ordinary.”

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor unveils 5-point plan for city’s ‘toughest budget in a decade’

Barrigan believes city council has a spending problem. He is critical of transit, among other things, especially after Councillor Aaron Paquette’s motion Monday that suggested the city consider covering off ETS fares, which could potentially add another $160 per residence in property taxes.

WATCH: Concerns being raised about rising property taxes in Edmonton and impact on business

“I wouldn’t have a problem, quite frankly, if we scrapped the LRT and everybody could ride the bus for nothing. We would save so much money. It’s a joke,” Barrigan said.

“We wouldn’t be funding this white elephant and the maintenance of the white elephant and expansion that people throw out $1 billion or $2 billion, as if it’s change.”

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He’s cheering on groups like Prosperity Edmonton, and its fight to keep taxes low, and he hopes his research helps.

“I’m just hoping to get it in the hands of people who have influence.”