Report on the IMA Conference
Submitted by Mirek Frolek, AAM
On June 18-20 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the 61st Annual Conference of the Institute of Municipal Assessors in Ottawa. The Conference provided an excellent opportunity to gain insight into various assessment issues and provided a great opportunity to network and learn about our profession from other experts in the field. From these events, AAOM Conference organizers often find potential speakers.
On Monday morning the conference opened with a presentation by retired Globe and Mail journalist, Jeffery Simpson. Mr. Simpson has been a national columnist for the past thirty years and his presentation was titled “The Rules of the Political Landscape are Changing”. He presented information on how lobbying and special interest groups have affected governments around the world. He also commented on the political situation in Canada and the Canada/US relationship with President Donald Trump.
In the late 1980’s, I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Simpson speak at Red River College. After his presentation at the IMA Conference I shared this information with him and he had two comments to make. Firstly he said that people from Manitoba are the perfect barometers of what is happening in Canada in terms of the political climate. He stated that “you are not from Eastern or Western Canada”. He also said that Manitoba with its significant French and Indigenous population provides a great perspective on issues of the day. The second comment he had was regarding the Winnipeg Jets and why the team struggled so much last year. It is interesting to note that no matter what we do in our professional lives, most of us are able to make a connection with hockey.
Over the years as part of the AAOM Executive, I have had the opportunity to attend many conferences, at which I have learned that all topics presented do not necessarily interest me. On Monday afternoon there was a presentation titled “Our Museums are Priceless…How should they be Assessed”? This presentation was the highlight of the IMA conference for me.
This panel presentation focused on the different perspectives on Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Dispute Advisory Panel (DAP). As a Valuation Officer dealing with commercial properties, I have some knowledge of how PILT’s work and how they impact a municipality’s tax base. Many of us are aware of the DAP hearing of the Halifax Citadel and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Prior to this conference, I had always commented on how nice a City Ottawa is and how much I appreciated their green space for parks and bike trails. The National Capital Act (NCC) pays all the taxes for these areas, which improve the quality of life for all citizens of Ottawa. Another interesting point that I learned, is that once the NCC makes the decision to acquire land, it cannot be sold at a later time for other developments.
At lunch I was sitting beside Paul Sanderson. President of the International Property Tax Institute, who presented information from a United Kingdom perspective. Their PILT payments are called Contribution in Lieu of Rates (CILOR). They also have many outstanding appeals. I had previously heard Paul speak at the IAAO Conference in Tampa Bay in 2016.
Another speaker was Michael J. Crosby, a lawyer from McInnes Copper from St. John’s Newfoundland. He is the son of John Crosby, a former cabinet minister from the Brian Mulroney administration. Mr. Crosby discussed the issue of social value to market value in determining what PILT payments should be. He also questioned why roads, aircraft runways, tunnels and bridges are excluded from Taxation.
There were two other speakers which made my experience at the IMA Conference memorable. David Coletto spoke about “How Canadians are thinking about their country and what it means to you”; how the impact of millennia’s voting patterns impact elections. Elia Saikaly spoke about “Discovering Your Life’s Purpose” and the challenges he had gone through from his teen years to climbing Mount Everest.
It was a very interesting Conference and I appreciated the opportunity to attend as a representative of the AAOM.