City Council Defers Cancelling Tax Breaks For Downtown Office Tower Developments
Toronto City Council has deferred a proposal to change a program giving tax breaks to downtown office tower developers.
The proposal called for changes to the city’s Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology property tax incentive program. The 10-year-old program allows developers to obtain rebates on 50% to 70% of the property tax owed over a new development’s first 10 years.
Among the proposed changes was to exclude developments from the program located within the downtown core — defined as from Bathurst Street to the Don Valley, and as far north as Dupont Street. An exception would be made for larger, transformational development projects.
But at a recent council meeting, proposal supporter Mayor John Tory asked council to defer any decision on the program changes until a budget for his newly remounted SmartTrack transit plan was dealt with.
“We’ve spoken to a number of different members of council in order that this happens in a manner that is sensible and consistent with other reports in moving forward,” Tory said to council.
“I think people are agreeable that it would be best to defer this item [until] city council considers the proposed financing and funding of SmartTrack, because the two would be dealt with together.”
Council approved the deferral in a 30-0 vote.
The new SmartTrack plan calls for the creation of regional express rail service along five of its GO Train corridors. The project is in the midst of a yearlong consultation between the city and provincial governments, transit agencies and the public.
Should the IMIT changes eventually go through, the financial benefit to the city could be significant by drawing in taxes the city could not previously collect.
According to the proposal’s Report To Action, a total of 31 projects are currently approved under the IMIT. Annually, the city can expect to receive an average of $29M in new net tax revenue from these developments during their grant period, and as much as $79M annually upon their conclusion.