The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is concerned by B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom’s comments appearing to sanction property tax increases to pay for a transit funding shortfall in Metro Vancouver.
“Minister Lekstrom’s comments ignore the fact that Metro Vancouver’s small business owners are already unfairly burdened by their property tax bills,” said Shachi Kurl, CFIB director of provincial affairs, B.C. and Yukon.
“CFIB’s most recent property tax research shows small business owners currently pay as much as five times the amount in property taxes that residential owners in the same communities pay.”
In an interview Monday, Lekstrom told CKNW he thought property tax increases are “more palatable to the general population” than other revenue streams suggested to raise funds to pay for public transportation.
“The minister may be correct in identifying the most politically convenient route to make up a transit funding shortfall, and CFIB acknowledges the money has to come from somewhere,” says Kurl. “However, singling out small business owners, who are hurt by exponentially higher tax bills, is unsustainable to Metro Vancouver’s long-term economic viability.”
CFIB joins Lekstrom in supporting a performance audit of operations at TransLink to see if any savings can be found, Kurl says. However, she adds any funding options chosen must be fair to everyone, and not unduly lean on any one particular sector.
“When mayors talk about a $23 property tax increase, it doesn’t sound like much,” says Kurl. “But to a small business owner paying commercial property taxes in Coquitlam or Vancouver, it’s over $100 more out of their pockets, at a time when they are being hit by myriad other increasing costs to their businesses. At some stage, businesses face a breaking point.”