Letters of Support for Amendment to the Assessment Act: Toronto

Jan. 30, 2017

We am greatly concerned about the property tax assessment levied on arts designated buildings such as 401 Richmond Street West and The Distillery District and its potentially disastrous effect on the cultural community that works there.  

These unique properties have been assessed, like other properties in the city, at what is deemed to be market value, which has become very high in recent years. Market rents for commercial properties in the area are much higher than rents at these locations and the value of the land in the neighbourhood has increased enormously because of the condominium boom. That creates a problem for current tenants, who can’t afford to pay condo prices for their workplace—and aren’t being charged those rates by Urbanspace and Artscape, the respective owners.

We believe that the above properties as well as other arts designated places need protection from these assessments (and resulting) tax increases because they provide extraordinary benefits that contribute to the general welfare of the city. All such properties are unique in their own ways and deserve protection from onerous tax bills. Indeed, this province needs to incentivize arts/culture/incubator spaces for the greater good of an informed and culturally active citizenry.

We ask that you support the active appeal of the 2012 assessment, and that you endorse an amendment to the Assessment Act.

We agree with the 401 Richmond Street West tenants group’s proposal to recognize and protect civic-minded landlords (who are not charging market value rents) and their tenants by assessing those unique buildings on the basis of actual rents paid, not on market value. If a building is assessed not on its market value but on the actual rents paid, the assessment will be lower, and this means the impact on taxes will be less for that building. That would be a significant benefit for these tenants.

We endorse the idea that the province should be asked to approve an amendment to the Assessment Act to create a class based on actual rents to achieve a public benefit.