Saskatoon’s Riversdale district is still trying to recover after an expert says property tax assessments forced businesses in the area to close.
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The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce said Riversdale in particular was hit especially hard when property tax assessments rolled out last year.
CEO of the chamber, Jason Aebig, said, “The values that they were taxed on were based on 2019 values and data, and then of course as we all know the pandemic rolled out after that which obviously affected sales.”
Aebig said the biggest challenges for businesses most likely comes down to one or more of the three I’s: inflation, interest rates and inventory.
Twig and Squirrel is a bead store in the area and owner Jackie Jenson has called the Riversdale district home to her small business for just over a decade.
She said has seen firsthand what has been done to revitalize the area, in the form of beautification.
But the commercial community has seen more and more for lease and for-sale signs in recent years. Jenson said it is a bit worrying as it seems like it’s a revolving door of businesses as of late.
“People start up for a year maybe, or two and it doesn’t work out for them,” she said.
Taxation aside, Jenson added that poverty and homelessness may also play a part in business closures. She does, however, credit the community and customer relationships with keeping her business going.
While Aebig said he is not sounding the alarm, he added there is still cause for concern, especially with the province’s current property tax model. He hopes to find solutions so businesses like Jenson’s can continue to thrive.
“We have to find a way to modernize this system so that commercial property owners aren’t in a position of having to pass on exorbitant jumps in their tax payable from cycle to cycle,” he said.
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