On 14 December 2021 the Town gave a Donation (or Tax) Receipt for $14,290,000 to the developers, Marianneville, in exchange for a 15.92 acre parcel of land at Glenway West.

The land was gifted to the Town by the developer who didn't want it.  The background is here

As I pointed out at the time, a tax receipt issued in exchange for a charitable donation can be used to offset taxes owing to the Canada Revenue Agency. It is as good as real money.

Marianneville told the Town it wants permanent signs posted along the trails on the donated land, reminding people of its gift to the Town of Newmarket and how terrifically generous they are. This will soon become an entrenched part of the Town’s history, a beneficent developer donating land for the public good.


I thought the whole valuation was completely bogus and I said so. The gifted land contained two large stormwater ponds that would have to be filled in to accommodate any new development. I was not even remotely convinced a Townhouse development on that site (which was used by the Valuer to justify the valuation) would get planning approval. (Right: one of the two stormwater ponds on the gifted land at Glenway West)

Indeed, the Town’s planners and engineers were never consulted on the valuer’s assumptions. There was no requirement for them to take a view on, say, whether it was realistic to fill-in stormwater ponds in this location.

The Town wasn’t even involved in choosing the Valuer.

No New Valuation

On 14 April 2022 I asked the newly appointed Chief Executive, Ian McDougall, to commission a new valuation. But he told me the Town would rely on the Valuer’s Report and would not commission a new one unless directed to do so by the Canada Revenue Agency. 

“You are correct that the Canada Revenue Agency requires the Town to ensure that the fair market value reflected in the Tax (or Donation) Receipt is accurate. It is for this reason that the Town retained an independent third party professional appraiser to prepare a valuation report in accordance with the standards and practices adopted by the Appraisal Institute of Canada. Relying upon that professional advice, and in accordance with the requirements of Canada Revenue Agency, the Town issued a tax receipt in exchange for the donation of 16 acres of public, open and green space. As you know, this land will be enjoyed by the community in the future through the use of trails that will be constructed on site.
The Town would not alter the amount on a Tax (or Donation) Receipt that has already been issued without direction from Canada Revenue Agency. Therefore, commissioning a new valuation report would have no practical purpose and would not be an appropriate expenditure of public funds. 
I will be asking staff to look into other municipalities' experiences in these sorts of donated land situations in order to positively evolve our approach from any best practices identified.”

So I wrote to the CRA and there it remains, no doubt forgotten, at the back of a filing cabinet somewhere in Ottawa.

Best Practices

On 26 January 2023 I asked Mr McDougall for an update on the best practices he spoke about and how other municipalities do these valuations. 

“Would it be possible for you to let me know if your staff have identified any best practices that Newmarket could adopt?”

And on 30 January 2023 he replied:

I have established the internal expectation that the most timely industry best practices be looked into by staff prior to completing any similar transaction in the future. This is especially important as things can change over time. I would suggest this will be rare occurrence so I don't expect another one for some time. So in waiting we will have the most up to date info and will also then only expend staff time when it is most warranted.”


It looks as if Marianneville will not be asking for a Tax Receipt for land it doesn't want at Stonehaven. Anything they consider surplus and can't use - such as stormwater ponds - will be gifted to the Town with great fanfare. The gesture will be hailed by Town and developer alike as another win-win. That's the way it works. 

I got sight of the Glenway West Valuation Report through a Freedom of Information request but it was never posted on the Town’s website. I was told it had to be re-formatted.

Mr McDougall promised to arrange this and he has followed through. I am grateful.

The Valuation Report (appraisal document) is now on-line and is available here.

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