Dozens of Toronto live music venues to get a tax break to help ease COVID-19 pressures

45 venues across the city will benefit from the $1.7M tax reduction, Mayor John Tory says

CBC News · Posted: Aug 20, 2020 5:31 PM ET | Last Updated: August 20 Tory said the move will benefit 45 venues across the city, including the Horseshoe Tavern. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Dozens of live music venues in Toronto will benefit from a $1.7 million property tax reduction to help them deal with the challenges of COVID-19, Mayor John Tory announced Thursday.

The move will benefit 45 venues across the city, Tory said, speaking outside The Cameron House — one of the venues that will receive this targeted relief program

Toronto’s live music venues contribute greatly to the city’s cultural, social, and economic fabric, and Tory said they require critical support in the face of ongoing pressures that have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has shown us more so than ever the importance of investing on a continuing basis in the arts and culture,” Tory said.

That’s especially the case given “the fact that we’ve been searching high and low for the tiniest source of joy, the tiniest source of things that can bring us together at a time when we were deliberately isolated from each other because of the health situation,” he said

At its July 28 and 29 meetings, the Toronto city council adopted a bylaw to add 45 eligible live music venues to the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax subclass. They include:

  • Burdock.
  • The Cameron House.
  • The Garrison.
  • Horseshoe Tavern.
  • Lula Lounge.
  • The Painted Lady.
  • The Phoenix Concert Theatre.
  • Relish Bar & Grill.

The 45 live music venues will see an estimated $1.7 million in combined tax relief — $0.92 million for the municipal portion and $0.78 million for the education portion of their combined property taxes.

The tax reduction will be absorbed within the city’s overall commercial property tax revenue stream and will not impact residential property tax rates, the mayor said.

Live music is a very important contributor to the economic fabric of the city, said Tory.

In Toronto, it has an economic impact of $850 million a year or “the equivalent of 10,500 full-time jobs,” Tory said.

“Part of the challenge we faced, for the artists in particular, is that they are usually not full-time jobs; they are dependent upon having a gig, being able to play somewhere, and be paid for it.

“In order to have a gig to pay somewhere and get paid for it, there has to be a somewhere, there has to be a venue,” he added.

This relief measure will be implemented through the final supplementary property tax notices that will be issued in the fall.

City staff will analyze the impact of the measure and report back to the council in 2021. The measure is intended to remain in place beyond this year to support the long-term viability of Toronto’s live music sector, the city says.

Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre); as well as Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York)

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