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By Altus Group | May 29, 2019

Abandoned Property Tax Relief Program

After months of deliberation, Calgary’s City Council has decided not to proceed with the proposed grant program.

The program was designed to provide property tax relief for small businesses. In the end, Council saw the program as too costly and difficult to administer. As property owners receive their 2019 tax bills this week, there will be no further assistance coming to businesses who are being hard hit by the shift of tax away from the vacancy-plagued downtown core.

Recap of the past six months

There have been many potential programs on the table over the past six months that would have helped to alleviate the impact of the most extreme tax increases:

  • Continuation of the Phased Tax Program (PTP) – The City utilized the PTP in 2017 and 2018 capping tax increases on the Municipal portion of Non-Residential Tax bills. This was seen as a “band-aid” one-year solution that was perceived to not necessarily result in putting the money in the right hands.
  • Shift of Non-Residential tax base to Residential – The City has taken a “baby step” towards doing this with less than 2% of the historic non-residential tax base moving to residential.
  • Grant Program for Small Business – As discussed above, it was decided by council on May 28th, 2019 that this program is not feasible.

Industry response to cancellation of Property Tax Relief ProgramUnfortunately, not enough was done on any of the above fronts and this is not good news for many commercial taxpayers in this City. In alignment with groups such as the Chamber, BOMA, NAIOP and others, Altus Group supported additional budgetary responsibility, the rebalancing of the tax base with residents, and distribution of any extra funds equally across the non-residential tax base.

As an article in the Calgary Herald reports, the $70+ Million that was set aside to mitigate the double-digit increases will now sit idle until another round of debate in the fall.

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