CANMORE – While the Town of Canmore continues to grapple with effects of COVID-19 coronavirus, the downtown business association is looking to postpone a tax increase for its members.
In a presentation to council on April 7, Canmore councillors moved to postpone a decision on an annual tax increase to the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) members as a way of helping local business owners during this pandemic.
“The increased proposed for 2020 was I believe three per cent,” said Chelsey Richardson, Canmore's Finance Manager.
“So it wasn’t a significant increase, but my understanding from [Beth] Vandervoort is they do want to be responsive to the current situation, so holding the rates rather than proposing any increase is an option.”
The BIA was established under provincial legislation as an area revitilization zone specifically for Canmore's downtown core and membership is mandatory for every business located in that geographic region.
The tax rates for the BIA range from $257 to $463 depending on location, whether the business is facing a street, or square footage. The BIA collected $103,549 in tax revenue from its members for 2019. With the three per cent increase, it proposed to collect $109,390 in taxes in 2020.
First established in 2005, legislation requires council to pass an annual BIA tax rate bylaw by May 1. Council is also required to approve the BIA’s annual budget prior to passing the tax rate bylaw. During the council meeting, a discussion emerged around bringing the tax rate increase back to council in a special meeting before the deadline in hopes to postpone it entirely.
“It’s something that’s come up in the last few days – should we be looking at holding the revision or the increase?” said Beth Vandervoort, executive director of the BIA, during the meeting.
“So at this point in time, just because of what is happening and knowing that many people on my board aren’t sure whether or not they’re going to be open at the end of this, it just seemed the most responsible thing for us to do.”
Vandervoort said a BIA board meeting was upcoming and the discussion to postpone the increase would take place then. Councillor Vi Sanford suggested that rather than make a decision on the increase that council bring it back at a later date, but before May 1.
“I’m just wondering from a procedural perspective if the BIA could have their meeting and then it could come back to potentially a special meeting of council,” asked Sandford.
“We have a couple of dates before May 1, I see that there’s a deadline issue, but maybe there can be some more clarity on what the BIA wants to do and how they want to proceed.”
Lisa De Soto, chief administrative officer for the Town, confirmed this is a viable option.
“I think this was all potentially coming together this morning so we’ve received it with what was proposed and what was in the agenda package, but that is certainly a viable option to postpone until the BIA has an opportunity to review the budget,” she said.
Councillors decided to postpone the decision and bring it back prior to May 1 for a decision in a special council meeting.
Visit visitdowntowncanmore.com for more on the BIA and its initiatives.
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