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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

Todd Stone reintroduces bill to reduce property tax for small businesses

Today Todd Stone, BC Liberal Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, reintroduced the Assessment (Split Assessment Classification) Amendment Act for the fourth time in the legislature.

The bill will create a new commercial property sub-class that local governments can use to provide tax relief for organizations facing massive property tax increases based on the development potential of the airspace above their heads. It will also eliminate the nonsensical application of the Speculation and Vacancy Tax on the airspace over the heads of the same struggling small businesses, some of which have recently received speculation tax bills of up to $6,500.

“This tax is the last straw for many small businesses already struggling to stay open amid the third wave of the pandemic,” said Stone. “Businesses should only pay tax on the space they use. But many, particularly those in the Lower Mainland, have seen a 200 to 300 per cent increase in property tax due to the NDP’s air tax.”

A broad coalition of stakeholders — including small businesses, chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and non-profits — have been calling for a flexible, common-sense solution like our split-assessment legislation, but to date, the NDP government has failed to put forward any meaningful solutions to this issue.

“Despite this legislation having broad support from the businesses community and local governments, the NDP continues to ignore this issue. Our communities can’t afford to lose more local mom and pop businesses to skyrocketing property taxes.

Unlike this government’s interim permissive tax exemption tool — that one year since implementation has not been used by a single one of the 162 municipalities in B.C. — we urge the government to call our bill for debate, so a lifeline can be thrown to small businesses hit hard with sky-rocketing property taxes,” added Stone.


What stakeholders are saying:


Jane McFadden, Executive Director, West 4th Ave BIA, Vancouver:


“Our businesses are in crisis and we, the BIA are doing everything possible to support them so that we have a neighbourhood still standing at the end of this pandemic. The spec tax only affects a few but those few are our entire neighbourhood and this tax could decimate our business community by being introduced now. The overarching issue is the highest and best use that has been an ongoing struggle for both the landlords and tenants. We need the government's support and we need it now.”


Trevor Bird, owner and chef, Fable Kitchen, Vancouver:


“We are innovative and creative and have shown our resiliency for many years and especially this year. We are trying to make it through this crisis and cannot take on any more financial burdens, especially something so absurd as the spec tax. We need someone to take a hard look at the best way to support small business and stop penalizing us so that we have a chance at success.”


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