Nearly two dozen corporately-owned properties in the City of Toronto are in arrears greater than $500K.

According to a report from the City, there are 23 properties owned by corporations that owe a combined $37.7M in outstanding taxes. Three properties owned by unnamed individuals owe an additional $2.2M, for a total of roughly $39.9M.

The bill comes as the City faces a $933M budget shortfall. To deal with the deficit, which is largely attributable to ongoing COVID-19 costs, Toronto Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie has said Toronto may hike property taxes.

The largest debtor on the list is Woodbine Mall Holdings Inc., owner of its namesake Etobicoke shopping centre. The company owes a total of $8,689,644 in unpaid taxes and penalties dating back to 2017. It purchased the mall in 2015, and has been on Toronto's list of highest debtors since 2019.

In 2022, after failing to receive payment for several years, the City sent a bailiff to gather rent directly from Woodbine Mall tenants in order to pay for outstanding property taxes. The process has continued, with the bailiff turning over any collected funds to the City on a monthly basis.

The second-highest debtor, 230110 Investments Limited, has let nearly $6M in unpaid taxes and penalties accumulate on 99 Toryork Drive since 1998. The North York industrial building is contaminated, and part of the funds owed stem from clean-up fees from the Ministry of the Environment.

The City attempted to sell the property, which has been on the highest debtors list since 2000, in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016, but received no qualified bids. The City could have acquired the property, but chose not to after an assessment indicated "significant environmental concerns."

A tax arrears certificate will be registered in 2023, which gives the current owners one year to pay a cancellation price on the property. If it fails to do so, Toronto will attempt to sell the property for a sixth time.

Fifteen units in Chinatown Centre, which are owned by five different companies, account for $9.6M in unpaid taxes and penalties dating back to 1997. The City noted in the report that the condo complex has "numerous abandoned units."

In addition to high-profile properties, the list also includes several prominent entities.

The City says the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Toronto owes $723,283 in unpaid taxes and penalties relating to 50 Gervais Drive.

The property was formerly owned by the Canadian Christian College and was tax exempt, but a spokesperson for the City told STOREYS its status was changed to taxable when the consulate purchased it in 2020.

"Although consulate properties are generally exempt from taxation under the Assessment Act, the property must be used and occupied as a consulate in order to be classified as exempt," the spokesperson said. "To date, the property at 50 Gervais Drive has not been used as a consular property and has remained vacant and unoccupied."

The City is working with Global Affairs Canada as it continues to seek payment for the outstanding property taxes.

A clerical error led to Metrolinx owing Toronto $511,389 in unpaid taxes on 265 Front Street East. The transit agency purchased the property, which was formerly owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust, in 2021 for construction of the Ontario Line.

However, a spokesperson for Metrolinx told STOREYS the ownership wasn't formerly changed at the Land Registry Office, which resulted in the accumulation of taxes throughout 2022. The City only because aware of the land transfer when collection action commenced.

With the ownership now updated, the spokesperson said the full amount, including interest and penalties, has now been paid to Toronto.

In an email to STOREYS, a spokesperson for the City said that because any taxes owing on a property transfer with ownership, it's believed that the aforementioned owed amounts are "secure," and will "eventually be collected." They noted that, in general, 97% of all taxes are collected during the same year in which they're levied.