Toronto’s live music venues contribute greatly to the city's cultural, social and economic fabric. These venues require critical support in the face of ongoing pressures that have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its July 28 and 29 meeting, City Council adopted a bylaw to add 45 eligible live music venues to the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax subclass, including Burdock, The Cameron House, The Garrison, Horseshoe Tavern, Lula Lounge, The Painted Lady, The Phoenix Concert Theatre and Relish Bar & Grill.
The 45 live music venues will realize 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.
On May 28, City Council expanded the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass to provide property tax relief for live music venues. As a result of this decision, properties that meet specific criteria are eligible to receive property tax relief of up to 50 per cent for the qualifying areas of the building.
Immediately following this expansion in May, the City began accepting applications from live music venue operators. The deadline for applications was June 19.
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 this cost-saving measure for live music venues and report to Council in 2021. This measure is intended to remain in place beyond this year to support the long-term viability of Toronto's live music sector.
The Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclasses were established by City Council and the Province of Ontario to support the affordability and sustainability of cultural and creative spaces in Toronto. This tax relief mechanism was first made available in 2018 for qualifying properties acting as creative hubs with creative tenants. In 2019, the criteria were expanded to include membership-based co-working facilities for creative workers and enterprises.
More information about the inclusion of live music venues, including eligibility criteria, is available at https://www.toronto.ca/business-economy/business-operation-growth/business-incentives/creative-co-location-facilities-property-tax-subclass-designation/.
Residents can learn about what to expect and what is required as Toronto moves into the new normal and they begin to visit more establishments and take part in more activities at http://www.toronto.ca/ReopenTO.
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"The expansion of this program to include live music venues is one way in which we can further protect the cultural vibrancy of our city. The music sector in Toronto has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. By providing relief to music venue owners and operators we can ensure that they have a greater chance of surviving and staying open."
- Mayor John Tory
"Live music venues are critical to the vibrant and diverse cultural scene in our city. Some of my favourite Toronto memories are seeing bands and artists at these local institutions, like The Horseshoe Tavern and The Garrison. I am delighted that we have been able to come together to help 45 local and independent venues across the city get through these difficult times, so that they can welcome us back when it is safe to gather and enjoy live music together again."
- Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee
"The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on Toronto's vibrant and diverse night economy, including the performing arts sector. That is why we are doing everything we can to provide live music venue owners and operators a greater chance at surviving, including the expansion of this property tax relief program."
- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee, Night Economy Ambassador and member of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee
“Music venues are an essential forum for the development and discovery of new artists, and contribute to the vibrancy of our neighbourhoods. I’m so pleased that the City took the recommendation of Toronto Music Advisory Committee and acted quickly to improve the sustainability of this important part of Toronto’s music ecosystem.”
- Mary An Blom, Co-Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee and Senior Director, Strategy & HR at Sony Music Entertainment Canada
"This targeted assistance program comes at a crucial time for venue operators who were already struggling for survival before COVID-19 hit. The inclusion of live music venues in the Creative Co-location Facilities tax subclass signals that the City of Toronto considers music venues as partners in creating culture and recognizes that venues contribute to the social and economic development of our neighbourhoods."
- Tracy Jenkins, Co-Artistic and Executive Director of Lula Music at Lula Lounge