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Small businesses are calling on election candidates to rethink property taxes

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CFIB wants civic election candidates to promise to lobby the province to change the rules, giving taxing power to cities

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s time to rethink property taxes for mom and pop shops, says a Canadian business group and calls on B.C.’s municipal election candidates to pressure the province to make changes.

Richard Truscott with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its members are unfairly taxed at higher levels because mixed-use buildings with shops are being assessed as all-business.

“They have commercial on the main floor and residential apartments above,” Truscott says. “That entire building is considered to be commercial and being taxed at that higher rate. The business owners will pay higher taxes as a result and even the residents would see some of that flow through onto their bills through higher rent.”

So the CFIB wants civic election candidates to promise to lobby the province to change the rules. He wants municipalities to have the power to charge different rates for different parts of a building.

“A bit of an anomaly in the assessment system. It’s something that could be fixed by giving municipalities the power to charge commercial [taxes] on the specific commercial buildings and residential on the residential part of that development,” he adds.

It comes as businesses of all sizes saw increases over the past few years.

Higher taxes force closures of businesses

Sascha Thompson, the owner of a flower shop along Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, says her business is suffering because she’s paying almost $700 a month to help her landlord cover property taxes. The taxes are so high, she’s been forced to close Sundays and let go of some employees.

“I’ve stopped doing weddings. It’s too much work. It’s too much work. It interrupts my cash flow too much, so I’ve had to become very lean and I’ve had to start saying no and that’s fine. That’s my decision and we’ll see how that goes.”

Thompson says The Flowerbox’s share of property taxes paid by her landlord has jumped over the last six years from less than $6,000 a year to close to $10,000.

“It’s disheartening. You wonder okay, so what’s left for me? Because I am entitled to make a profit. Where do I go and what’s happening is people are just giving up. I don’t want to give up. It’s what is that paying for?” she wonders.

Last week, Dulux Paints at Broadway and Arbutus announced it was closing its doors after nearly 50 years, because of two years of around 10 per cent property tax increases