After fighting for recognition for more than four decades, John Perrin finally won recognition that a historic downtown Winnipeg hotel had been mistakenly seized from his family due to an incorrect tax assessment, but he is still seeking liability.
Perrin’s family business purchased the Fort Garry Hotel from CN Rail for $100,000 in 1979, but were taken aback when its first annual property tax assessment came to $280,000, an amount later found to be 9700% higher than it should have been.
In a January 31 letter to John Perrin, Manitoba Attorney General Kelvin Goertzen said an independent review was conducted and found that the family business was “caught in a series of circumstances that ultimately resulted in some injustice.”
“However, it also concluded that the province did not err or create injustice,” Goertzen wrote, as the city of Winnipeg was responsible for conducting tax assessments and compliance, and had misinterpreted provincial legislation dealing with of the appeals.
Two unsuccessful attempts to appeal the initial property tax assessment were made in 1981 and 1982, but Perrin says the city froze individual assessment appeals after misinterpreting Bill 100, provincial legislation intended to freeze the level of property tax. Manitoba property values.
A group of downtown Winnipeg business owners sued the city over the restriction of appeals, but the provincial court upheld the city’s finding. Subsequently, the debate moved to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in 1983 that Winnipeg taxpayers could appeal property appraisals.
But the decision came too late, as the Perrin family owed just over a million dollars in taxes, penalties and interest in 1983, and the city listed the building for that amount after seizing it in 1987. That year , the building and the land beneath it was purchased by Raymond Malenfant, a hotelier from Quebec, according to the hotel website.
43 year fight
Perrin says the city took advantage of the province’s failure in its review and appeal system. He has contacted the provincial ombudsman, as well as various mayors and prime ministers over the past two decades, saying his family is owed an apology and compensation.
“We got our first tax bill in 1980, when I was 30, and now I’m 73,” Perrin said.
“Not a year has gone by that I haven’t taken steps to raise this with the government, and there probably hasn’t been a day in those 43 years that I haven’t thought about it.”
While unable to comment on the provincial review, the city told Breaking: on Thursday that “it is worth noting that changes in provincial law at the time led to a variety of legal issues being raised, which were ultimately resolved.” by the courts.”
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In 1984, the family was able to appeal their initial property tax assessment to the provincial municipal board, which, according to Perrin, led to an erroneous decision that market value was not relevant to the assessments.
Although the province later amended Bill 100 to allow assessment appeals, Perrin said it did not allow retroactive ones, meaning her family was out of luck.
In a separate case from 1987Perrin said the Court of Appeals found that “market value was the only test for assessments in Winnipeg,” allowing his family to file another appeal.
“So, in other words, the decision that the municipal board made in our case was incorrect… that added salt to the wounds, and it was the second part of the denial of justice that was given here.”
‘My reputation was shattered’
Perrin said his family finally received a claim in 1991, after the city board ruled that the city had overassessed taxes owed on the hotel between 1980 and 1983, and taxes owed for that three-year period should have been $95,000. instead of about a million dollars. .
He wrote a letter in response to Goertzen earlier this year, which included longtime tax attorney Michael Mercury’s conclusion that the province “made mistakes and created injustice by failing to act and enacting confusing legislation.”
A Manitoba Justice spokesperson told Breaking: the department contacted Perrin directly about the issue and had nothing further to add.
Perrin said the ordeal has been extremely difficult for her family for decades.
“When we finally lost the hotel in 1987 … I was 37 years old and basically my reputation was in shambles, because at that point it was our word against everyone else’s,” he said.
While he may request more meetings with the mayor and prime minister in light of Goertzen’s letter, Perrin said he hopes they contact him first. The decades-long debacle hasn’t changed his view of the historic hotel, he said.
“It does carry some pain with it, but I can certainly separate the two and enjoy the building for all that it is, because it is a wonderful asset to the city of Winnipeg.”