A longtime Robson Street business is closing its doors and a sky-high increase in property taxes is being blamed.
Karen Tennant, co-owner of Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware, said her property tax bill increased nearly 93 per cent earlier this year, meaning the small shop in the West End has to fork over $130,000 in property taxes.
“We might as well turn our pockets inside out and just let the money fly in the wind because it’s all going to tax,” Tennant said.
The land the shop sits on has been upzoned as part of the West End Community Plan meaning much of the area will be turned into residential towers. B.C. Assessment says the property is currently assessed at more than $50 million.
Critics say governments have to stop taxing future residential land at current commercial tax rates.
“The incentive to have small business in these buildings is going away and these businesses are going away and they can’t afford to be in Vancouver for many reasons and one is taxation,” city councillor George Affleck said.
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A recent survey of small business owners shows the extent of the damage being done. Seventy per cent of respondents said their taxes went up by more than 20 per cent in the last three years, forcing some businesses to close their doors.
Commercial property tax consultant Paul Sullivan says the way taxes are calculated needs to change.
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“You’re going to see 20, 30, 50 per cent property tax increases on a lot of our community retailers and I think the residents of Vancouver want these types of businesses and this is going to be a major problem to solve.”
Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware, which opened for business more than 30 years ago, will stay on Robson Street until its lease expires in Feb. 2019.
In the meantime, Tennant says it will be tough for them to stay afloat.