Budget Fails Toronto Small Business

    TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - Lionel Miskin, TABIA Vice-President and Tax
Committee Chair expressed disappointment that the Ontario Budget, once again,
fails to address the dilemma of Toronto's small retailers. "While the
government has recognized that the huge disparities in education tax rates
across the province need to be addressed, the Budget proposal will have no
significant effect on Toronto's small retailers for years to come," he states.
    "The Provincial Government taxes Toronto's commercial property to the
hilt, with education levies that it uses elsewhere in the Province. This
overloads our membership, most of which is comprised of small retailers, with
tens of millions of dollars in property taxes. Ever since the Provincial
Government introduced Current Value Assessment, most of these retailers have
seen their property taxes increasing annually at rates which are double and
triple the inflation rate. Between the annual assessment increases, usually
five percent, plus the City's rate increases, one and a half percent, many of
these retailers are struggling to stay afloat.
    "The provincial levy is hurting Toronto very badly," adds Mr. Miskin. "It
is contributing to the erosion of the City's commercial base, making it more
and more difficult for the City to raise the revenues it needs. The taxation
of Toronto businesses at rates well in excess of those in other parts of the
GTA is most counter-productive. It makes it harder for Toronto business to be
competitive, forcing a lot of commercial enterprise to leave the City. Those
who can't leave are called on to shoulder a rapidly increasing burden. All
across the City, prime commercial neighbourhoods are being replaced by street
townhouses and high-rise condominiums. By the time the full effect of the
budget proposal is realized, a lot more of Toronto's commercial neighbourhoods
will have deteriorated.
    "Every neighbourhood needs a shopping district," says Miskin. "A healthy
shopping neighbourhood provides vital amenities to the surrounding residential
neighbourhood, enhances its value and enables people to shop with a minimum of
driving. And many of these neighbourhoods make a substantial contribution to
the quality of life in Toronto in other ways, with their street festivals and
special events. It is a narrow view to ignore this sector of Toronto's

    About TABIA

    TABIA (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) is an umbrella
organization for all Toronto Business Improvement Areas (BIA's), with an
aggregate membership of over 25,000 businesses, most of which are small
retailers, boutiques, restaurants or cafes.

For further information:

For further information: Lionel Miskin, Vice-President & Tax Committee
Chair, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, (416) 222-4582 or
visit www.toronto-bia.com; John Kiru, Executive Director, Toronto Association
of Business Improvement Areas, (416) 889-4111

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