Operators of ServiceOntario office threaten to leave Beaverton after rental dispute with Township

A rental dispute between its operators and Brock Township may see the closure of the ServiceOntario location in Beaverton.

At this week’s meeting of the administration and personnel committee, members of council received a letter from Vincent Veerasuntharam of 1446705 Ontario Inc., which spells out an ongoing rental issue over the office the company currently leases at the Beaverton Town Hall.

“As mentioned in our previous correspondence we are unable to sustain our services with the increase of rent and other amounts (i.e. accessible door, property taxes). We have thus decided to move our services out of the town of Beaverton. It is unfortunate that the community will be losing a pivotal service but unless we can come to a resolution on the matter our decision will remain the same,” it reads.

The office opened in January of 2016 and has been leased from the Township at a cost of $500 per month. In addition to that amount, the company is responsible for property taxes (paid because the municipal building is being used commercially) and required leasehold improvements.

“We at ServiceOntario should not be penalized for providing our services in good faith,” the letter from Veerasuntharam concludes.

Ward 2 Councillor Cyndi Schaffer didn’t seem to quite agree with that sentiment.

“It (paying property taxes) is clearly written in the lease they signed. They have not paid the tax component, only paid rent. Now they want forgiveness or they threatened to move or not renew their agreement with ServiceOntario,” she said.

While Brock Township CAO/Clerk Thom Gettinby did confirm that the company owes money to the Township, he could not comment on the amount outstanding.

“I cannot provide any information as to the amount as that is privileged between the taxpayer and the municipality, just like any other ratepayer,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Gettinby noted that the property taxes are paid by all of the other commercial tenants in Township facilities.

“We do not write off or exempt property taxes from any of our other commercial tenants,” he wrote.

“The franchise owner feels that he should be exempt from property taxes.  His space in the (Beaverton) Town Hall is considered commercial property and, therefore, property taxes do apply,” added Mayor John Grant.

At Monday’s meeting, council voted against waiving the outstanding fees and will be sending a letter to the company.

“Not waiving (the property tax amount) as this would set precedent to do the same with all the other tenants that rent from the municipality,” Mayor Grant said.

“The next step is keep communication open with the ServiceOntario tenant.  Let’s see what happens.”