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By Altus Group | April 9, 2019

Increasing Commercial Tax Rate less than Expected

The Commercial Tax Rate is still increasing 13% year over year, but the door was left open for relief for struggling small businesses.

It is well known that the swift and dramatic decline of the downtown office assessment base exposed a systemic over-reliance on this asset class to fund the City’s operating budget. This issue has dominated the headlines like no other year, highlighted by the urgency that if something was not done, businesses would be facing an 18% increase in the tax rate. After much debate among City Council over the past several months, agreement was finally reached yesterday.

Click here to read further details of council’s debate and the rate bylaw that was ultimately passed.

The option council chose creates a 5% reduction to the non-residential tax rate from what was budgeted in fall of 2018, however this is still a 13.3% increase in the tax rate year over year. The residential tax rate remains unchanged from what was projected in the fall of 2018.

Highlights of Council’s Decision

  • A gradual 4 year shift of $70M ($8M in current year) from Non-Residential to Residential
  • A nominal (<0.6%) reduction in the City’s operating budget, found in “efficiencies” to offset the above increases to Residential taxes
  • The use of $27M in unconfirmed Provincial “Tax Room” will be used to reduce the total tax rate for non-residential properties
  • The “PTP” rebate program that was utilized in 2017 and 2018 to help cushion the effects of huge increases in those years will not be extended, although it is being replaced with a “Small Business Sustainment Grant”

Council has directed administration to return on May 14 with proposed details on how to implement this new grant program. Details of this are vague, but it appears the goal is for the grant program to be administered directly between the City and qualifying small businesses, as opposed to going through property owners, who actually receive the property tax bills.

Read the Bylaws

Residential Tax Rate 2018 Rate 2019 Rate Δ YoY
Municipal 0.0039014 0.0042108 7.93%
Provincial 0.0024559 0.0024432 -0.52%
TOTAL 0.0063573 0.0066540 4.67%


Non-Residential Tax Rate 2018 Rate 2019 Rate Δ YoY
Municipal 0.0153234 0.0177750 16.00%
Provincial 0.0041030 0.0042467 3.50%
TOTAL 0.0194264 0.0220217 13.36%
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