Helping small businesses through the pandemic and beyond

Stage 2 of the city’s Light Rail Transit is to include an extension to the Ottawa
airport, with an LRT station at the airport. SOURCE: YOW.CA

By Jim Watson

Last month, I was thrilled to announce a series of measures that will help small businesses and many economic-development partners rebound as the pandemic comes to an end:

Staff will explore offering a permanent 10-per-cent tax discount to approximately 4,700 commercial properties that house roughly 7,800 small businesses across the city – with no impact on residential taxpayers.

For the average small-business property, assessed at $600,000 and paying $15,000 in municipal and education taxes, that means a discount of $1,000, and a possible additional discount of $500 should the province decide to match the discount on the education taxes.

While city staff still wait for the enabling provincial regulations, they have started to define types of properties and businesses that might qualify for the small-business-tax subclass.

I’m very pleased that this proposal will lead to permanent and predictable financial relief for 7,800 small businesses in our city, which will no doubt help them reinvest in their business and rebound after the pandemic.

I am also pleased to announce a 50-per-cent reduction in rental fees at city facilities from September until the end of 2022, including the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building, Meridian Theatres and Shenkman Arts Centre.

To support the economic health of Ottawa’s downtown core, where retail stores and restaurants have been disproportionately impacted, the city’s senior leadership team and Ottawa Public Health are actively working on a plan that will be ready early in the third quarter, charting a staged return to city workplaces.

Working with our colleges and universities, the city is committed to playing a greater role in experiential learning by increasing the number of co-op placements and meaningful seasonal hiring opportunities by surpassing 100 co-op hires by 2024, up from 60 in 2019.

Finally, working with the Ottawa International Airport, we have been advocating with the federal government to secure funding required to complete the Stage 2 LRT Airport Station, critical to the opening of the O-Train South Extension. We have also begun discussions on resuming international air service at YOW.

I believe we are putting forward a very strong package of incentives that will truly help small business and special events during these difficult times. Not only will these measures provide them with the hope they need to make it out, it will also help them thrive once COVID is behind us.

For the full news release, please visit:

Jim Watson is the mayor of Ottawa.

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