Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante was in a good mood Friday morning.
Plante was all smiles as she visited merchants on Wellington Street in Verdun to deliver some good news. The day before, she had announced in her 2019 budget for the city that small businesses would be getting a financial boost: a 10-per-cent reduction in property taxes on the first increment of $500,000 or less of the assessment value.
Properties with a higher value will see a smaller reduction. Plante said it’s the first time the tax gap between residential and non-residential properties has been reduced.
“This business, like tons of other businesses on Wellington Street, will benefit directly from this measure,” she said while visiting La Librairie de Verdun, a bookstore on the busy commercial artery.
Just over half the businesses in the city are valued at $500,000 and under, and the new property tax reduction will benefit most. Philippe Sarrasin, owner of La Librairie de Verdun, thinks closing that tax gap helps small establishments to build communities.
“The merchants on the street are responsible for some of the well-being or some of the activities — cultural activities, food-wise or whatever — and people are choosing these streets, these neighbourhoods because of that,” he explained.
There is also a $5.2-million plan in the budget to compensate owners who have been impacted by construction projects, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016. Plante says details of that plan will be revealed on Nov. 14, but it’s the kind of plan merchants say is vital, as many believe the announced plans are just a first step to avoid seeing more store closures in their neighbourhood.