City Council Highlights for November

Lowering Small Businesses Taxes - Council has established a new property tax subclass to better support small business owners. Commercial properties downtown, in growth centres such as along Yonge Street in Willowdale, or on designated avenues with an assessment of less than $7 million and a lot size under 7,500 sq ft. will see an automatic tax reduction of 15% next year. It is estimated that 60% of Toronto’s businesses will benefit from this reduction.

This will provide some relief to many small business in our area, where taxes are high because of the value of the property. Although the property tax saving goes directly to eligible landlords, the saving will be passed on to most tenants who cover the property tax as part of their rent.

The change is revenue neutral to the city because the reduction is covered by larger properties in the commercial tax class. There is no impact on residential property taxes.

Affordable Housing Programs - Council approved four new Housing Now sites, using city-owned land such to create opportunities for some long-term rental at prices more affordable than what the current market would otherwise create.

None of the approved sites are in Willowdale but a city-owned property at 5151 Yonge St. was identified for a future phase. John asked that the evaluation of this site be sped up so that something might happen here sooner.

Council approved this request, along with his direction to look at other city services such as a child care centre and early-intervention programs which could also be included in a city-initiated development.

Support For Those Experiencing Homelessness - Recognizing continued needs to respond to homelessness, Council approved several plans setting priorities and guiding services over the next three years. This includes a new infrastructure plan that will help transition out of COVID-19 hotel response sites in 2022.

CafeTO Made Permanent - The program making it easier for restaurant owners to set up outdoor patios has been made permanent. The 2022 season will operate in a similar way to this past season and sidewalk cafes will continue to operate on that basis. City staff will begin developing new criteria for curb lane cafes for 2023.

Training for Rideshare Drivers - Council directed a pause on issuing new licenses for vehicle-for-hire drivers (e.g. Uber, Lyft) until the City can establish requirements for a mandatory training course. Program details will be presented to the General Government and Licensing Committee on November 30.