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'Our businesses aren't credit cards': Small businesses in Calgary to protest tax increase

Last Updated Jun 9, 2019 at 5:02 pm MST

Benjamin Griffon opened Black Sheep Patisserie a few months ago in Calgary and now he's worried about his tax bill. Source: Crystal Laderas/CityNews

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — As city council prepares to meet for an emergency meeting to discuss a solution to rising property taxes, small businesses in Calgary are preparing to rally outside council chambers on Monday.

For some small businesses, opening their property tax bill this year came with an unwelcome surprise, in some cases, it increased by more than 30 per cent.

Angela O’Donoghue, the owner of Esme Beauty, said help needs to come from multiple fronts.

“I think the provincial [government] should step up a little bit, but I also think that every Calgarian loves small businesses and that they would all be willing to help out,” she said.

READ MORE: Bike lanes another blow to small business in Beltline

Letting employees go or shutting their doors completely are some of the options small businesses are considering in light of the recent property tax hike.

“They need to care about us. We employ a huge amount of people in the city and our businesses aren’t credit cards for them and that’s how all of us are feeling,” she said. “How do I tell my employees that I have to let them go? Because I can’t, essentially, afford them.”

Angela O’Donoghue is the owner of Esme Beauty, a small business in Calgary. Source: Crystal Laderas/CityNews

Some business owners like Benjamin Griffon, who opened Black Sheep Patisserie just a few months ago, are waiting to receive their bill and are afraid of what they will find.

“[I have heard from everyone] who received their business tax assessment, and I haven’t received mine yet,” he said. “So I’m pretty scared about that.”

Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating is expected to present a notice of motion on Monday to city council during their emergency meeting. Included in the proposal is an immediate $60 million dollar cut to the operating budget that aims to create a more “equitable share of the tax burden between residential and non-residential property owners.”

On Facebook, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said while he agrees something must be done, he worries that the proposal is hasty and could create a larger structural problem in the short term because of the quick turnaround that he says would force Administration to find these cuts within one month.

“We’re agreeing to cuts before we even know what they are and I find that very troubling,” Nenshi said. “There is no way this won’t mean cutting things that matter to Calgarians.”