Commercial subclass proposal likely not this year

The “subclass” proposal was first revealed publicly in July, when Vancouver staff presented it to council. At that time, Stewart said he understood the provincial government could enable the subclass through regulatory change, without needing to wait for the legislature to reconvene in October.

The change, the mayor said in July, “could happen with the stroke of a pen.”

But the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has since clarified it won’t be so simple.

In an email Tuesday, ministry spokeswoman Lisa Leslie wrote: “One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with this approach is the legislative complexity. Though it has been suggested that it would only require a regulatory change, the province has determined it would require legislative amendments to at least three separate pieces of legislation.”

On Monday, the first day of UBCM, a group of business, arts and real estate representatives wrote a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan, urging his government to take “immediate steps” to create the subclass, and “publicly declare during UBCM that they will provide this much needed tool for municipalities in time for the 2020 tax year.”

“The arts and culture community, the business community, and the municipal community are all calling for this change, so we’re hoping to put a little pressure on the province to show that they’re listening,” said Aaron Aerts, Western Canada economist for the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, who signed this week’s letter to Horgan alongside representatives of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Vancouver Business Improvement Association, B.C. Alliance for Arts and Culture, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Urban Development Institute, and others.

The B.C. legislature reconvenes Oct. 7, and B.C. Assessment makes determinations about properties near the end of October each year. Many municipalities and small business advocates, Aerts said Tuesday, have been hoping to see this change made inside that “really narrow window,” so as to provide relief in the 2020 tax year.

But, the ministry clarified later in the day, that timeline “would not be possible.”

Read the full Vancouver Sun article here