The covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the live music scenes of cities across Canada. As reported earlier in FYI, Toronto City Council has offered a major property tax break to owners of live music venues, a move that is being praised as a very welcome and important initiative.
On May 28, the Council passed a proposal that enables property owners to claim a 50 percent property tax break on sites that primarily operate as a live music venue, with the assumption that they’ll pass those savings on to their tenants. Read the press release in full here
The ruling, retroactive to Jan. 1, covers city music clubs that hold a capacity of up to 1500 patrons and can meet the requirements specified. Criteria for eligibility for a venue include that it must have been in operation for at least six months and must annually present live music for a minimum of 144 days. Venues also must employ regular staff and at least two of the following roles connected with live music programming: venue booker, event promoter, audio technician, stage manager or door person/venue security.
Yesterday (June 7), The Toronto Star covered the story in a comprehensive feature that included interviews with such notable venue owners as Lisa Zbitnew (Phoenix Concert Theatre), Shaun Bowring (The Garrison, the Baby G), and Jeff Cohen (The Horseshoe Tavern, co-owner of The Horseshoe Tavern, Lee’s Palace). All expressed appreciation for the move.
Quoted in the feature is Mike Tanner, Music Sector Development Officer, Film & Entertainment Industries for the City of Toronto, and he explained that “covid-19 supplied the urgency for us to move this through more quickly than might have been possible beforehand.”
It is believed that Toronto is the first jurisdiction in Canada to launch such an initiative, and it will be interesting to see if its lead is followed in the months ahead. "We hope that other municipalities can look to what Toronto accomplished and come up with similar legislation," Shaun Bowring tells FYI.
The deadline for Toronto venues to apply for the program is June 19 at 5 pm. Apply here