Calgary

'The worst it's been': Small business owners urge action as costs mount

Many business owners outside downtown will face big hikes in their non-residential tax bills this year. Combine that with a higher minimum wage, a carbon levy, and the ongoing downturn, and entrepreneurs are worried.

Entrepreneurs say rising property tax one problem among many

Jim Wright, owner of Wheel Pro's, and Lisa Maric, owner of Distilled Beauty Bar & Social House, are two small business owners in Calgary. (CBC)

Two Calgary entrepreneurs are urging other small business owners to pressure politicians to ease taxes and levies as they endure the "worst recession" in decades.

"This is easily the worst recession we have seen since 1982," said Jim Wright, the owner of Wheel Pro's, a wholesale and retail wheel business in Highland Park.

"We've been through the great recession of '08, I was through a fire in '09, and this is by far the worst it's been," he told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday.

Wright said six of his commercial customers closed their doors in the last year.

Many business owners outside downtown will face big hikes in their non-residential tax bills this year, under the city's "revenue neutral" formula.

Combine that with a higher minimum wage, a carbon levy, and the ongoing downturn, and entrepreneurs are worried.

Lisa Maric, the owner of Distilled Beauty Bar & Social House, opened her business in Marda Loop in October 2016.  

"This is not just as simple as business taxes," said Maric, who feels there is a disconnect between politicians and what's happening to Albertans.

"This carbon tax that's going on right now affects everyone. That means less disposable income for my customer. My customer's property values are dropping, their taxes are going up," she said.

"It's not just one element, it's like an eight-legged monster. So everybody's running around trying to figure out how they're going to cut back, where they're going to save."

When asked if they have any advice for other small businesspeople, both Maric and Wright encouraged others to get involved and speak up.

"Most small businesses don't get involved. They're too busy focusing on their day-to-day activities," Wright said.

"Phone your city councillor and explain just how grave the situation is there," he added.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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