EDITORIAL: It's a loss for everyone when independent businesses are forced out

The challenges facing many local businesses seem to go from dire to worse. They’ve been hit with slings and arrows from many directions, having to compete against big box stores and online shopping chief among them.

At the same time, business owners have to deal with a skewed system in which they not only have to pay taxes on behalf of their landlords, but pay them as though a highrise building already exists on their property – one they likely as not couldn’t afford space in.

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Chain stores, services and banks are among the few left who can afford the leases.

When independent shops owned by local people can’t afford space in their own community, it’s a net loss for everyone.

Recently the province announced a stab at fixing part of the problem. But basic math tells us that when someone pays less tax, someone else pays more.

Currently the only obvious winners are the landlords.

And while some of them are also local business people, there are also a number who are parking their money in commercial real estate.

The triple net lease seems ripe for further examination as landlords appear to benefit greatly from this system while tenants risk losing their shirts.

How about some form of vacancy tax for commercial properties? Or rules about the maximum size of business in retail areas? When the market can’t correct itself, it’s time to look at new ideas.

A hollowed-out business district benefits no one.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.

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