401 Richmond Street West is a restored, heritage-designated, industrial building turned arts-and-culture hub in downtown Toronto. It is home to over 140 artists, cultural producers, social innovators, microenterprises, galleries, festivals, and shops.
Now looming property tax increases threaten to price tenants out of this long-time sanctuary for dozens of Toronto's non-profit cultural organizations.
"401 Richmond, a beloved downtown hub of non-profit culture organizations in a reclaimed factory, has been hit with a property tax increase that could spell its end." - The Toronto Star
The Premier and others in her government need to take action and update provincial tax policy now in order to ensure the preservation of cultural centers like 401 Richmond. The last tax assessment is terrifyingly high -- it's now a matter of great urgency.
"This building and its extraordinary roster of tenants was made possible through the generosity and vision of its owners - a rarity in Toronto, and an example the city needs! It must be protected!" - Vera Frenkel
In 2012, UrbanSpace, the building’s owner, paid close to $447,000 in property taxes, with its rate increasing steadily to that point at 1 per cent per year. Then in 2013, it jumped to $520,280. By 2016, the bill was within a few hundred dollars of $700,000. Without some kind of intervention, the building’s 2017 tax bill will be $846,210.73.
"City council has delivered a clear statement to the province: New provincial tax policy is necessary if we are going to protect and support important buildings like 401 Richmond," - Ward 20 Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy
While UrbanSpace has absorbed the worst of the increases, tenants have shared some pain. And with taxes projected to go as high as $1.29 million by 2020.
The only way for this address to pay the proposed tax is for the current building to be torn down and a 40-storey tower built to replace it -- action needs to be taken immediately.
"Please don't let artists and creators be dispersed and driven out of the heart of the city! A totally sterile urban landscape is not what we need!" - Margaret Atwood
Please sign and share this petition if you wish to protect 401 Richmond as well as other cultural and creative centers like it. To go the extra mile you can call and/or write to your MPP and tell them to change the provincial tax rules that inappropriately tax heritage buildings.
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Premier Kathleen Wynne
(Photo Eduardo Lima, Metro)