VICTORIA (December 10, 2020) – Todd Stone, MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson and Opposition Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, has reintroduced a bill intituled the Assessment (Split Assessment Classification) Amendment Act, 2020 in the legislature. By creating a new commercial property sub-class, this bill enables local governments to reduce property taxes for small businesses facing massive tax increases on the development potential of their unused airspace.
“Businesses should only pay tax on the space they actually use — not on the air above them,” said Stone. “But as urban centres grow, densification is placing huge pressure on our local small businesses, particularly those on the Lower Mainland, through dramatically increased property taxes based on the highest and best use of undeveloped airspace. In some cases, organizations have seen a 200 to 300 per cent increase in property tax bills. I’m introducing this bill for a third time, as the legislation pushed through by the NDP government earlier this year will not provide municipalities and businesses with the solution they requested as countless businesses were forced to close permanently.”
John Horgan called the Legislature back with only one piece of legislation, but British Columbians are expecting more ideas to address the challenges our province is facing. This bill would be an optional tool for local governments to cut property tax to a rate that makes the most sense for each unique situation they try to address. The new rate would only apply to the unused airspace above a business, while the business premises would be taxed at its normal rate.
“During this pandemic downturn, it’s critical to deliver on split assessment to relieve cost pressures caused by sky-high property tax assessments for small business, arts groups and non-profits,” added Stone. “This solution is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders. Our communities were already losing cherished local businesses to skyrocketing property taxes before the pandemic and we can’t let COVID-19 hollow out our neighbourhoods any further. I urge the government to call this bill for debate and take immediate action before more small businesses are lost for good.”