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Guelph sign guy still standing up about property tax hike

Ryan Meunier wants the property tax increase to be capped at two per cent
Ryan Meunier stands near the bridge where Macdonell Street meets Arthur Street.

If you’ve been near the Ward area these last couple of months you have probably seen a man wearing a toque, leather jacket, shirt, and tie holding a white board detailing a 38 per cent property tax increase.

Ryan Meunier has been standing in the garden area underneath the bridge where Macdonell Street meets Arthur Street since the City of Guelph’s budget was finalized. He’s there at least 12 hours a week at various times.

Meunier wants the tax increase capped at two per cent. “Because I do accept that there's got to be a little bit of an increase, people's wages go up, things go up. Two per cent added to the base and then that’s what the budget is,” said Meunier.

He’d like to see the municipality focus on the needs of the city and not the wants, like the new library.

“I started to try to get awareness out there when I learned of the budget. I didn't realize the budget was going to be what it is,” said Meunier.

His first sign said the increase was unacceptable. It now reads the increase isn't affordable, sustainable, respectful or responsible. 

The budget for years 2024 to 2027 starts with a 8.52 per cent property tax hike, 9.79 per cent in 2025, 8.03 per cent in 2026 and 7.33 per cent in 2027.

In the next five years the total adds up to 38 per cent. By adding the tax increases from 2023 until 2027 that is how Meunier got 38 per cent.

Each fall council confirms the budget so there is a possibility changes can be made.

Mayor Cam Guthrie intends to use his strong mayor powers for staff to develop the budget to confirm it with a less than four per cent property tax increase for 2025, previously reported by GuelphToday.

Meunier considers this a part-time job by calling it a public service. He’s had people yell at him “get a job” as they passed by.

He is 52-years-old and a retired elementary school teacher for the Upper Grand District School Board.

His house in the Ward is paid off but said he considers the property tax increase like a mortgage.

Meunier said he is in a fortunate financial situation but anything could happen.

He’s received positive responses too and people have encouraged him to keep doing what he’s been doing.

People seem like they want change, he said.

Before he took his sign out to the public he wrote to leaders and politicians at each level of government voicing his concerns.

With inflation and mortgage rates increasing it’s not affordable, said Meunier.

“So my concern was, what it's going to do to people here who are struggling to survive?” he thought. “People are working hard to make ends meet, and they're not making ends meet.”

He is concerned about the amount of unhoused people there are in the city too. 

“You know, I feel like the council here should be taking care of Guelphites, not be concerned about what every other city is doing,” said Meunier.

He’s thinking about starting a local ratepayers association so he and other members could lobby on behalf of Guelph citizens. The group's goal would be to keep taxes low.

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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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