Over the last decade, business owners in Metro Vancouver have faced ballooning commercial leases and property tax bills. Many are struggling to afford the radical increases. The reality is: the current property tax system is pushing small businesses out – and that means higher taxes and less services for the residents and businesses that remain. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Corey opened his business 11 years ago after seeing first-hand how CrossFit improved his life following a serious physical injury. But the massive overhead his business faces has made it increasingly difficult to stay open. Over 6 years, Corey’s rent increased 40%, forcing him to work 80+ hours a week just to keep up.
“I have not brought home a paycheck for nearly 2 years. If I can’t pay rent, I can’t keep doing this”.
— Corey Lapell, Business Owner Crossfit Empower
Mark’s family has owned their Mount Pleasant business for over 60 years. Since 2014, his property taxes have doubled on the company’s warehouse and parking lot. All in, the business faces property taxes of $82,000 – with $30,000 alone accounting for a ten car parking lot. Mark made the tough decision to sell and move out, unable to take on the increased property costs.
“It is definitely saddening. I am being forced to sell and move out due to skyrocketing property taxes. Many others in the area have already done the same.”
— Mark Greene, Business Owner Pacific Controls
Robert founded the business over 30 years ago with a goal to provide high-quality organic health products to improve customers’ lives. But things are looking bleak as his property taxes have doubled in the past six years to $54,000 and his rent is set to skyrocket.
“We can’t sustain this. Eventually we need to think about doing something major like moving outside of Vancouver. But even that is a challenge.”
— Robert Gaffney, CEO of Omega Nutrition
Raimac Industries a mainstay in Greater Vancouver for over 100 years. Trying to get away from the crazy Vancouver real estate market, recently moved shop to Township of Langley. But property taxes keep following – the business pays $4,400 a month.
"Small business owners are so much closer to their product and their staff than big corporations. Increases in taxes affect small business owner on a much more personal level because your employees become like your family and you want to protect them."
— Shauna Bailey, Controller at Raimac Industries
Since opening her business 9 years ago, Sally's property taxes have more than doubled, coming in at $800 a month. Tack on $3,600 in rent and running the business has become increasingly difficult.
“I’ve squeezed every inch of floor space to maximize revenue – overhead is so expensive. But there’s only so much revenue can grow – as things continue this way, it puts extreme pressure on my business. It’s stressful.”
— Sally Traynor, Owner of Manifesto Salon
Some Progress: Vancouver Property Tax Win
After years of ignoring the business community’s plea for help, Vancouver City Council finally faced the reality: rising property taxes are driving out local entrepreneurship.
CFIB stood along business owners, asking that Vancouver council shift 2% of property taxes off Vancouver businesses and onto residents. The shift will have a marginal cost for residents — $46 a year on a $1-million property – while the average Vancouver business will see a tax reduction of hundreds of dollars. Vancouver council voted in favour of the motion, providing some short term relief to local business.
We need all local government in Metro Vancouver to accept that there is a property tax problem, and take action.
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