Arts Orgs and BIAs to Premier Horgan: Help Us Survive Tax Increases

The Beaumont Studios is among the small arts businesses that has struggled with rising property taxes. | Image: Aaron Le Photography.

The Beaumont Studios is among the small arts businesses that has struggled with rising property taxes. | Image: Aaron Le Photography.

A coalition of business associations and arts organizations have sent Premier John Horgan and the Government of BC a letter in support of the Union of BC Municipalities motion to create a commercial property ‘subclass’ for municipalities. Among the signatories is the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture.

You can download a PDF of the letter here. The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Premier Horgan,

Today marks the first day of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention with the theme of resiliency and change. To start the dialogue, several of BC’s largest business and arts and culture stakeholder groups are calling for your government to take bold action to help small businesses struggling to survive massive property tax increases. Local businesses and community arts and culture organizations are being pushed out of our communities. The province has the opportunity to take action to make our communities more resilient by protecting our local businesses and arts organizations and to help them flourish.

The policy on the table that has been endorsed by the municipalities, the business community, and the arts community is the creation of a new commercial property ‘subclass.’ This will allow municipalities to tax the unbuilt development potential above businesses at a rate lower than the current commercial rate. We urge the Government of BC to take the immediate steps needed to provide municipalities this tool which can provide real, targeted tax relief to those small businesses which are the most impacted, in time for the upcoming tax year.

When this proposal is discussed during UBCM, we expect there to be significant municipal support. By giving this optional tool to municipalities, the Government of BC will demonstrate to local governments, the business community, the arts and culture community, and to the public that it recognizes the problem facing our local business owners and it has taken action by allowing an option that will help them thrive.

As Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart recently wrote to you, “the viability of independent small businesses, and the art, culture and non-profit sectors in Metro Vancouver is under threat, particularly for those in neighbourhoods that are experiencing a fast pace of change and dramatic increase in market valuation.” We agree with this statement and encourage the Province to publicly declare during UBCM that they will provide this much needed tool for municipalities in time for the 2020 tax year.

We believe that this option will deliver the flexibility that will help many small businesses, arts and culture groups and our communities. We would be pleased to work with staff to provide more details.

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