City council voted Monday to carry out an immediate 10 per cent cut to commercial tax bills Monday at a tense meeting where angry small business owners filled council chambers.In a unanimous vote, council approved a proposal to apply $130.9 million to reduce bills for non-residential accounts, in part through $60 million in budget cuts in 2019.“I think the business community rightly was frustrated in our ability to take action a month or so ago,” said Coun. Evan Woolley following Monday’s vote.“This is the largest tax-relief package that a council has ever given back to the business community. This is significant. The structural changes to our broken assessment system is what we really need to tackle next.”The mayor will also write a formal letter to the province urging reforms to rules around property assessment and taxation.The vote came following an early morning rally on the steps of City Hall where more than two hundred business owners gathered to protest over steep hikes to tax bills in 2019.Monday’s meeting was initially scheduled to last 90 minutes and was extended to accommodate public submissions by business owners who took turns addressing council at the mic.“All we’re asking for is a fair shake,” said Kelly Doody, a business owner who helped organize the rally. “I think that we can all get pretty emotional about it because these are our livelihoods on the line. My house is mortgaged against my business — that’s my family, my kids. And there’s not anyone I talk to that isn’t in that same boat where they have everything on the line for their small business.”Inglewood business owner Kelly Doody attended the rally this morning. She saw her property taxes more than quadruple to $6,400 per month from $1,500.“It’s been a rising tide for quite some time, but two weeks ago when bills started arriving in the mail, everyone starting losing their minds,” Doody said ahead of the meeting. “Based on the groundswell and the voices we’re hearing coming out of the woodwork, from our main streets to our industrial communities, I think we’re going to see a lot of people.”Her safe estimate is well over 1,000 coming together to pressure the city to come up with a viable solution in response to the painful tax shift spurred by a corporate exodus from the downtown core.
A crowd gathered in front of City Hall this morning for a pro-business rally ahead of a special meeting of council.
Gavin Young /
“It’s not just mom and pop shops that have been around for 50 years. It is tech companies, startups, scale-ups, young people that have no idea what they’re in for,” said Doody, who owns The Social School.The motion pitched by 10 c
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