City tax hikes making Winnipeg homes unaffordable

The Manitoba Real Estate Association says the increasing Winnipeg taxes, frontage levy, fees and education taxes are bringing property owners to the breaking point. Lorne Weiss worries it will send more people to bedroom communities.

Manitoba Real Estate Assoc says homes affordable to buy, but owning one is getting expensive.

Property tax increases, frontage levies and education taxes adding up. (CBC)

It's being called a tough budget that could drive people out of Winnipeg. An average home in Winnipeg will go up 3.8 per cent when you add the 2.3 percent tax increase to the higher frontage levy.

Lorne Weiss, Manitoba Real Estate Association, said Winnipeg may have affordable house prices, but it's getting expensive to own a home in the city. (CBC)
​Lorne Weiss, chair of the Manitoba Real Estate Association's political action committee, said the taxes are adding up to making the city a difficult place to own a home.

"At one point, we're getting close to the breaking point. Although Winnipeg is one of the most affordable places in the country to buy a home, it's far becoming one of the most expensive places to own a home in relation to the cost of the home," Weiss said.

Tuesday's budget outlined increases of approximately $112 dollars for the average $262,780 home on a 50 foot lot, but that isn't the only increase home owners are facing. This included higher taxes, a hike in the frontage levy plus additional fees for water and garbage. 

"What limit does the average homeowner have in terms of how much they can continue to be taxed? We have to remember that when you get that tax bill, you're not only paying the City of Winnipeg, but you're paying for the education system at the same time," Weiss said.

The concern is the increasing bill for property owners in the city may send even more to live in bedroom communities.

Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie said the frontage levy increase will hit his ward harder than more affluent ones. (CBC)
​Mynarski city councillor Ross Eadie has been crunching the numbers and said the frontage levy increase will hit people in lower income neighbourhoods harder than in more affluent areas.

"It's $15 on a 25 foot front house, but that house in many neighbourhoods in my area would be maybe valued at about $150,000 so that $15 probably represents more than a 1% increase. Whereas if you have a 60 foot frontage, 80 foot frontage house, and your house is worth $900,000 it's probably like a .2% property tax increase," Eadie said.

"Well, $15 isn't going to break somebody, but it's the principle," Eadie said.

Both Eadie and Weiss agree the city had to do something to pay for needed infrastructure repairs.

But they said increasing property taxes and frontage levies aren't sustainable.

Weiss said it's time for the city to work with the provincial and federal governments on better funding models.


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