The Township of Esquimalt has voted to put a freeze on tax increases for local businesses in 2019.
The motion was put forward by Coun. Ken Armour, who hoped that the “zero per cent tax increase” would allow more local businesses to thrive.
“The reason I think this is important is partly because we want to increase business growth here, and we want to send a message to businesses that we’re serious,” Armour said. “Not only does this make Esquimalt a more competitive and attractive place to work, but it does increase certainty for businesses in terms of cost.”
In 2018, Class 6 businesses (businesses which are not classified as heavy or light industrial) paid a tax revenue of 16 per cent, which averaged out to $14, 726.
As of 2019 there are 175 Class 6 businesses in Esquimalt which will be affected by this change.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said now is a pivotal time to help local business owners.
“This is the year of the double-whammy of the health tax on employers,” Desjardins said, referring to the provincially-instated Employer’s Health Tax. “That, for a business, is a huge challenge… the only way they can make that up is by reducing their staff, or increasing their budget.”
She also added that with Esquimalt’s steadily growing population, more local businesses are needed.
“This community is hoping for more; for a pub, for more stores and more services,” Desjardins said. “We’re at a tipping point that this is an important year to signal to businesses that Esquimalt is growing, and we want you to be a part of that .”
In order to make up for this tax freeze, residential owners will see a slight increase in taxes to still generate the revenue needed for the Township.
The total increase for residents will sit at 5.51 per cent over the 2018 taxes, averaging out to an additional $46.
“Esquimalt people want to spend their dollars in the community,” Armour said. “I recognize this is a shift in taxation and it would not be received well in all quarters… but essentially this motion is asking the average Esquimalt homeowner to spend an extra $46 for their community.”
The decision will be put out to the public for input along with the rest of the Esquimalt 2019 budget before it is officially adopted in early April.