- Tax changes should ideally be made as part of the budgetary process so that all options are examined and a balance is struck between priorities. It is critical that new fiscal commitments are only made when they are affordable and the government can do so responsibly.
- The Bill does not cap the amount property owners can apply for and obtain.
[Note: The Bill is drafted so that the Minister of Finance has the authority to cap the amounts. For instance, the Minister could prescribe a limit to expenses by using the "prescribed costs" subsection of the rehabilitation expenses definition.]
- There is a concern that this Bill will not be a benefit for the "middle class”.
[Note: "Middle class" is a commonly used ill-defined buzzword used by politicians.]
- The Income Tax Act already contains incentives to encourage donations for the preservation of historic assets.
[Note: Tax deductible donations are limited in scope and do not, for example, help the owners of private residences or downtown main street commercial properties.]
- Some property owners will be eligible for the rehabilitation tax credit while their neighbours, who do not own a designated historic property, would not be eligible.
[Note: This concern does not recognize the cultural value to Canadians generally of rehabilitating historic properties.]
- The tax credit is just providing an unexpected perk to owners for doing work that they are already obligated to do.
[Note: Unless a property is subject to a heritage easement, there is no such obligation for an owner to carry out rehabilitation work.]
- The government will have to assess whether Parks Canada has the resources to meet the anticipated increased applications for historic designation and whether the Canada Revenue Agency is equipped to handle the added administrative burden.
- Should there be a clawback of the tax credit or capital cost allowance or perhaps some other mechanism to deal with rehabilitation work that is later undone by neglect, alteration or demolition? Under some provincial legislation, demolition of designated heritage structures is controlled but this does not apply to national historic sites unless they are provincially designated.
- Definitions need to be clarified perhaps by adding details in regulations. For example, rehabilitation expenses do not include costs incurred solely for aesthetic or cosmetic purposes. What does this mean? Some key heritage ornamentation (such as brackets under eaves, carved gingerbread on gables, or roof cresting) were never functional and solely installed for aesthetic purposes. Is painting with heritage colours or wallpapering in heritage patterns solely for cosmetic purposes? Exterior shutters were once functional but are now solely aesthetic, so can the rehabilitation or replacement of shutters be included as a rehabilitation expense?
- Is there a way to include heritage properties in heritage conservation districts without also including properties with no heritage attributes? This issue may already be addressed indirectly in the Bill because any rehabilitation must be carried out in accordance with conservation standards (being the standards and guidelines for the conservation of historic places in Canada adopted and applied by the Parks Canada Agency). Also, any rehabilitation work must be certified by a professional architect confirming that the work was carried out in accordance with conservation standards.
- Is it a good idea to leave the judgement call on eligible work to architects? This may be both too broad and too narrow because most architects are not heritage experts. Perhaps “professional heritage consultants” would be better. This would include heritage architects but also other heritage experts with appropriate qualifications and experience.