Toronto Moves to Help Music Venues with Property Tax Relief

It aims to "ensure that our city's live music venues are ready and waiting" after COVID-19
Toronto Moves to Help Music Venues with Property Tax Relief
While some help is on the way for Canada's arts, culture and sports sectors, live music venues and bars have been feeling the financial squeeze of ongoing pandemic lockdowns. Now, the City of Toronto's Music Advisory Committee (TMAC) is seeking to help those spaces out by expanding a property tax designation.

During a digital meeting today, TMAC unanimously approved a motion to expand the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass Designation to cover live music venues.

Created by Toronto City Council and the Province of Ontario in 2018, the Property Tax Subclass works to support affordability and sustainability of artist hubs and creative enterprises in the city.

TMAC explains in a release that expanding the designation will allow for venue operators to access a reduction of their commercial property taxes of 50 percent, which the committee states will "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."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the existing inequities and failures in our society. Being in an already precarious position, live music workers, artists, and venues have been hit hard by the pandemic," TMAC co-chair and Toronto Coun. Joe Cressy explained in a release. "We need to stabilize and support the live music community to weather the storm, but we also need to be working to build a more vibrant and sustainable music economy for the 21st century — not simply going back to the pre-pandemic status quo."

CP24 notes that in order to qualify for the designation, venues must present live music on at least 144 days each year, while having a capacity of less than 1,500 patrons. Infrastructure such as a fixed stage or a sound booth will also be required.

Even before the pandemic, recent years have seen a number of Toronto live music venues close entirely or relocate due to new developments or rising rent prices.

The proposed expansion still needs to be approved by Toronto City Council. Last month, Toronto moved its annual "City Hall Live" concert series online.