The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation will be re-assessing the value of dozens of Yonge Street commercial properties, which could potentially bring business owners some relief after a 100 per cent tax hike, the neighbourhood's councillor announced on Friday.
About 80 small commercial retail properties in the area's heritage conservation district will be re-assessed by MPAC, the not-for-profit corporation that assesses and classifies all properties in Ontario, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said.
"Today was, what I would call, a small victory," she said.
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The re-assessment is expected to lead to "some form of tax relief" but the amount is not clear, Wong-Tam added.
The Downtown Yonge BIA has said soaring property tax bills — which have caused some businesses' taxes to double in just a year — could result in more vacant storefronts.
"You need to have small, independent business to make a really vital and vibrant community," said the BIA's chief operating officer and executive director, Mark Garner.
Approximately 80 small commercial retail properties in Yonge St Heritage Conservation District will be re-assessed. This is a good start.— @kristynwongtam
"We look forward to the ongoing conversation," he added, and called this a "temporary" fix.
Wong-Tam said the province needs to agree to a new small commercial property classification to ensure a long-term solution.
"That will give them some surety moving forward that they're not going to be hit with wild assessments of 100 to 300 per cent again in the future," Wong-Tam explained.
"Quite honestly, that's death by property taxes."
Two-decades-old store may shut its doors
In Toronto, the property tax for a commercial space is determined by the building's current assessed value and then multiplied by about 2.5 per cent.
When MPAC rates a property, it bases its value on what buildings have sold in the area and for what price — so when nearby homes are selling for tens of thousands of dollars over asking, prices for all types of properties in the area go up.
One struggling business previously said it was bracing for a possible closure because of the latest tax hike.
Eliot's Bookshop, located at the corner of Yonge and Wellesley Street W., recently announced it may have to close after 22 years because of the tax hike.
Paul Panayiotidis, the independent bookstore's owner, previously told CBC Toronto his taxes doubled from $24,000 a year to $48,000 a year. By 2020, he says his taxes would be $96,000 a year, unless something changes.
Wong-Tam said saving small businesses is key to keep "unique, high-quality" experiences on Yonge Street.
"We've got to help them and protect them," she said.