Property Tax Reform

The Chamber Network Call on Province to Address Unsustainable Commercial Property Tax Bills Through the Creation of a New Commercial Sub-Class

A dozen Chambers and Boards of Trade from across the Lower Mainland, including the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, took a positive step towards solving one of our business communities’ most pressing problems: unsustainably high commercial property tax bills.

Many small and medium businesses across Greater Vancouver and in the Tri-Cities are facing an existential threat in the form of unsustainably high property tax bills primarily because of the way BC Assessment taxes properties based on their “highest-and-best-use.” BC Assessment’s process of taxing based on “highest and best use” results in properties being taxed based on their redevelopment potential, rather than what they are currently used for.

For example, a property on a busy corridor may currently be used for a one-story retail bakery even though its local government would permit a future multi-level residential development to be built there. Because of this, BC Assessment would value and tax the property as a potential residential condo tower rather than the local bakery it currently exists as. This has threatened the survival of many businesses along transit corridors and in neighbourhoods experiencing redevelopment. The result has been a hollowing out of small and medium-sized businesses, often long-standing ones, from neighbourhoods across our region.

Since early 2018, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce has been one of the loudest advocates on this issue. We have also used our role as constituents of the relevant minister, MLA and Minister of Housing Selina Robinson, to bring attention to this problem. We are encouraged to see the growing chorus of influential voices from across our region, from municipalities to business groups, offering solutions to address the rapidly increasing commercial property tax bills faced by our local businesses.

In that vein, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce is joining the provincial Chamber network and others in supporting a proposal to achieve split assessments through the creation of a new commercial sub-class. This new commercial subclass would allow cities to separate the current use of a property from its redevelopment potential, and tax the redevelopment potential at a lower rate.

We strongly encourage the province to implement this proposal in time for the upcoming property tax bills as many businesses cannot sustain another year of property tax increases.

For the Chamber network’s joint letter to Minister Selina Robinson, please see here. For policy and advocacy related questions you can reach our Public Policy Advisor, Alex King, at .