yonge street toronto

City of Toronto takes heat as local businesses face huge tax increases

If there's an area in Toronto that deserves the title of mostly rapidly changing, downtown Yonge St. would surely be in the running. Over the last few years we've seen the incoming condos get bigger and bigger and the old mom and pop storefronts progressively give way to large scale developments.

Now that process is accelerating even more.

In what small business owners surely view as a vicious cycle, the rise of towering condos along lower Yonge St. has led to huge increases in property taxes. Various media reports have pegged these between 100 and 500 percent over the next few years, but the underlying cause is the same.

Property tax evaluations are based around the price at which nearby buildings sold, so the astronomical numbers affiliated with massive condo developments have a direct effect on low rise structures that house businesses like the House of Lords, which just announced its closure in the wake of new assessments.

Even those who lease rather than own storefronts feel the pinch because they're landlords do and it's common for property taxes to trickle down to tenants in commercial leases.

The process by which these assessments happen, it should be noted, is not overseen by the city of Toronto. It's actually a provincially run not-for-profit called the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation that carries out property evaluations in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario.

Still, it's not hard to understand why small businesses would lash out at the city for failing to protect them from what they claim is an unfair tax burden.

According to the CBC, numerous small business owners met Wednesday night to try to address these property tax increases in solidarity, but it's unclear as of yet what their options are.

Collectively, Toronto tends to talk a big game about the value of small businesses and the need to protect what's left of the character on Yonge St., but this situation will surely prove a test to see if the will to do so actually exists or whether it's all preamble to the complete sanitization of what was once the city's most vibrant street.

Lead photo by

Derek Flack


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