Saving Our Small and Independent Businesses

A two-story French restaurant taxed as if it was a 12 story condo. If it sounds silly, it’s because it is. The Provincial ‘highest and best use’ tax system is fundamentally flawed and putting arts, culture, heritage and independent businesses at risk.

Last week I spoke out, alongside Councillor Mike Colle, Frédéric Geisweiller (owner of Le Select Bistro), and Bonnie de Merlis (owner of The Sign of the Skier in Ward 8), about this flawed tax assessment system. For Le Select Bistro, a recent property re-assessment based on 'highest and best use' has resulted in a tax increase of 239 per cent since 2016 alone. 

Under this flawed system, we risk losing small and independent businesses like Le Select, which has been operating since 1977 and employs more than 80 people. Small and independent business shouldn’t have to fight to stay in a neighbourhood they have been crucial parts of for decades, they should be able to thrive. 

Last term the same Provincial tax model put 401 Richmond, Artscape and other cultural hubs at risk. It took years, but we worked with the Province and fixed the system for cultural hubs. We need a similar solution for small and independently owned businesses.

Imagine taxing someone on their income potential, not their actual income. This is what’s happening to small and independent businesses, and it’s time to fix this broken Provincial tax policy. This is why Councillor Colle and I will be bringing a motion to City Council calling on the Province to address this flawed system and save our small and independent businesses.