According to a report by the Toronto Star, a tax relief program is on its way to Toronto, specifically directed at cultural hubs similar to the one on 401 Richmond St W.
In June it came to the city’s attention that a downtown cultural hub located at 401 Richmond St W was being pushed out by increasing property taxes. The hub, which holds 140 local artists and various non-profit organizations, is a former industrial building that was transformed into an arts hub and is currently owned by UrbanSpace.
Over the past five years, the building has seen its taxes more than double, with this year’s bill being $846,000. In response to the rising taxes that would inevitably push the cultural hub out of its home at 401 Richmond, an online petition was launched to call on Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to do something about it.
Great news for not only OAAG but all tenants of 401 Richmond! https://t.co/ThIMJzIF5b
— OAAG (@OntArtGalleries) September 26, 2017
City Councillor Joe Cressy was also heavily involved in lobbying for Ontario’s government to come up with a long-term solution to relieve “cultural incubators” from the pressures of high property taxes.
Now, the province’s government has given permission to Toronto to implement a protection plan for buildings that foster non-profit organizations and artists, specifically those that are over 5000 square ft and give back to the community through free public programming. Under this regulation, arts and cultural centres will be treated similarly to the city’s already-existing program for charities and heritage programs, which allows Toronto to provide tax reductions.
“It’s important that the city moves fast to define this new tax class so culture hubs, like 401 Richmond, can continue to work without the worry of property tax assessments and uncertainties of whether they will continue to operate,” Janice Solomon, head of the Entertainment District Business Improvement Area, told the Star.
UrbanSpace has recently successfully appealed its tax assessment, and will receive refunds that stem back to 2013. Their building assessment has also been significantly reduced, moving from The building was initially assessed at $57.6 million in 2016, which has now been reduced to $33.2 million to a current assessment of $33.2 million.
City Councillor Joe Cressy has also noted that other commercial property taxes will compensate for the new tax reduction.