The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has asked Nanaimo city council to consider a commercial property tax freeze to help offset negative financial impacts of COVID-19. (News Bulletin file photo)

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has asked Nanaimo city council to consider a commercial property tax freeze to help offset negative financial impacts of COVID-19. (News Bulletin file photo)

COVID-19: Nanaimo considers one-year commercial property tax freeze

Report based on chamber of commerce proposal to ease pandemic stress on business community

There’s a possibility Nanaimo’s business community could get some financial relief in the form of a commercial property tax freeze.

The proposal was put to council by Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO, in a presentation he made at a finance and audit committee meeting Feb. 17.

Smythe said Nanaimo’s business community has faced a myriad of negative impacts over the course of the pandemic.

“Beginning with a voluntary three-month closure in March 2020, followed by a slow return to local shopping, reductions in local consumer demand, increasing competition from a global online marketplace, continuing restrictions on food and beverage purveyors and an uncertain environment for 2021, our local businesses deserve all the help they can get,” Smythe said, reading from a proposal letter written to council.

According to a provincewide business survey conducted by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Nanaimo’s business operators are among the province’s most pessimistic about their economic futures.

“December’s report indicated that on Vancouver Island we have the lowest level of business optimism in the province, with 46 per cent of the businesses categorizing themselves as in poor or very poor shape,” Smythe said. “That’s almost half of all businesses who have a dismal outlook on their future here. When asked if they were pessimistic or optimistic about the next six months, 36 per cent said they were pessimistic or very pessimistic.”

The local chamber, Smythe said, is proposing that city council ask city staff to prepare a report with analysis of the impact of freezing tax increases on commercial rate payers for one year to help Nanaimo’s business community “catch back up” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Putting a temporary freeze on commercial rate payers would show support for local business, would help shape the brand of Nanaimo as business-friendly and support new efforts at outreach for economic development,” Smythe said. “Most importantly, it would be a vote of confidence in the business community and perhaps strengthen their resiliency and resolve and encourage them to hold on just a little longer and maybe change that curve on their optimism and pessimism.”

Coun. Jim Turley motioned that council request city staff to study the potential of maintaining the commercial tax rate at 2020 levels, which was supported by all councillors except one. Coun. Tyler Brown said he did not see the sense in freezing commercial taxes for a single year because “it’s completely indiscriminate for whether a business is in need or not in need” and noted the city doesn’t control property assessment values, so even if a reduction were implemented, it’s still possible some businesses in need could see their taxes rise based on assessments.

“I would be supportive of looking at it, in the long run, as part of our overall taxation scheme, but definitely not as presented and as we’ve discussed today,” Brown said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo’s recovery task force recommends pride of place, strategic investment

Krog said he appreciated the broader questions raised by Brown around taxation and long-term strategies, but said Nanaimo’s business community is hurting economically now.

“I think one of the purposes of the mayor’s task force was to look at longer-term strategies. We’ve just received an economic development task force report,” Krog said. “There are lots of big questions for us to look at, but right now the business community says, ‘We’re hurting and we’re hurting a lot and we’re asking for you to just do a little study on some relief,’ so I think it’s appropriate.”

The report will be presented to council when it reviews the city budget in March and April.

READ ALSO: B.C. unemployment rate climbs as COVID-19 drags on



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

budgetCity HallMunicipal GovernmentProperty taxes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read