South Granville Member Info

Taxing local Vancouver businesses to death bad for environment, Leonard Schein tells city council

Want to build walkable communities in Vancouver?

Then stop taxing independent businesses to death.

This was the message delivered by former local cinema operator Leonard Schein to city council Wednesday (April 24).

Council was hearing from speakers about the city’s “Big Moves” to address what the city describes as a “climate emergency” brought on by global warming.

One of the big steps is to have 90 percent of residents being able to walk or roll to their daily needs by 2030, which is a little over a decade from now.

But where can people walk to if independent businesses are dying?

“We’re currently losing our local neighbourhood businesses throughout the city,” Schein told council in his remarks.

According to Schein, local shops and stores are important in building vibrant communities, where people can find many of the needs.

Schein is the former owner of the Fifth Avenue Cinemas, Park Theatre, and Ridge Theatre. He also founded the Vancouver International Film Festival.


“The overwhelming majority of my workers did not need a car to get to work,” Schein said.
Schein said that the disappearance of many independent businesses can be traced to one thing.

“This problem is caused chiefly by Vancouver city tax policy,” he said.

According to Schein, businesses pay 4.8 times the property tax borne by homeowners.

In 2018, homeowners paid $2.4 in residential taxes per $1,000 value of their property.

For businesses, it was $10.8 per $1,000 of their property value.

“Over the past 30 years, city councils decided to subsidize residential property taxes by businesses as there are more residential voters than commercial voters,” Schein said.