Like a mythic serpent devouring its own tail, the real estate market – left to its own devices – will cannibalize itself. From 2010 to 2015, about 350 hectares of Metro Vancouver industrial land were lost, rezoned largely for an uneven mix of very necessary and ludicrously expensive housing.
But now, while house values have fallen from the stratospheric to the merely obscene, we find local businesses struggling to cope with the second straight year of rocketing property assessments.
Defenders of rising rates repeatedly note that land assessments are based on “highest and best use.” In our experience, however, it’s always the former and almost never the latter.
The fact that a Mountain Highway building’s assessment grew by $1 million overnight may seem inconsequential until we consider that the costs will be shouldered by the people who do the work, not the ones who collect the rent. Those hikes also imperil that most intangible and precious of qualities: neighbourhood character.
The businesses that can afford the merciless trickling down of triple net leases are consistently the dullest, least animated contributors to the community. A series of decisions and indecision by local governments risks the creation of uninviting, utilitarian neighbourhoods that anyone not in need of an ATM or a root canal will avoid like, well, a root canal.
With more than 98 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s industrial land occupied, we beseech our municipal councils to rezone with the needs of local businesses in mind.
We need to do something for mom and pop shops. If those assessments don’t drop, they will.
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