Toronto Announces $1.7 Million Property Tax Relief for Music Venues

The measure will remain in place beyond 2020
Toronto Announces $1.7 Million Property Tax Relief for Music Venues
In May, Toronto moved to support live music venues impacted by COVID-19 through expanding a property tax designation, and the city has now announced that 45 independent venues will benefit from the program.

Today, Mayor John Tory announced that 45 Toronto venues — including Burdock, the Cameron House, the Garrison, the Horseshoe Tavern, Lula Lounge, the Painted Lady, the Phoenix Concert Theatre and Relish Bar & Grill — will receive a combined $1.7 million in property tax relief.

The relief program will remain in place beyond 2020 to support the long-term viability of Toronto's live music industry. A press release notes that city staff will analyze the impact of the program for a report to council in 2021, also pointing out that the tax reduction will be absorbed within Toronto's overall commercial property tax revenue stream, which will not impact residential property tax rates.

Earlier this year, the City of Toronto's Music Advisory Committee (TMAC) unanimously approved a motion to expand the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass Designation to cover live music venues. The designation was created by Toronto city council and the Province of Ontario in 2018 to support affordability and sustainability of artist hubs and creative enterprises.

TMAC explained that the expansion would allow for venue operators to access a reduction of their commercial property taxes of 50 percent, which would "go a long way towards reducing the rental costs for operators, helping to mitigate the economic impact of the current pandemic and providing much needed financial support on a permanent, go-forward basis."

"Live music venues are critical to the vibrant and diverse cultural scene in our city," TMAC co-chair and Toronto Coun. Joe Cressy explained in a statement. "Some of my favourite Toronto memories are seeing bands and artists at these local institutions, like the Horseshoe Tavern and the Garrison. I am delighted that we have been able to come together to help 45 local and independent venues across the city get through these difficult times, so that they can welcome us back when it is safe to gather and enjoy live music together again."

In the years prior to the pandemic, a number of Toronto live music venues have relocated, or closed entirely, due to new developments or rising rent prices.