The City of Montreal is freezing property taxes for businesses and homeowners in 2021 as the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic takes hold.
Mayor Valérie Plante announced the measure Thursday as the region enters a partial lockdown for the next 28 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The health crisis, which has lasted more than six months, has taken its toll on residents and merchants alike, she added. The tax break comes to about $56 million.
“We needed to give a little bit of relief to Montrealers,” she said.
The move comes as the Greater Montreal region is in the red zone, the highest designation in the province’s coronavirus alert level system. As a result, several businesses have been forced to close for most of the month, including bars, theatres and the dining rooms of restaurants.
Benoit Dorais, the executive committee chair, said the tax break is one measure to help impacted business owners and the city is looking at more solutions.
“This freeze is a first step for our merchants,” he said.
Plante also said the city is projecting a deficit that is between $109 million and $129 million, which is lower than initially predicted.
“We are in a financial situation that is difficult, but manageable,” she said.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation lauded the decision, describing it as “good news for everybody.”
“It’s not just the city budget that was hard hit, it is people’s budget as well,” said Renaud Brossard.
The official opposition at Montreal City Hall, however, took to social media and said more needs to be done to support people during the health crisis.
— With files from Global News’ Felicia Parrillo