An Ottawa city hall committee has given its unanimous support to a $2.9-million tax credit for a company that wants to built a Porsche dealership on the edge of Vanier, despite resident objections that it was like handing "social assistance to a millionaire."
Mark Motors, owned by the Mrak family, is the first applicant to a two-year-old Community Improvement Plan (CIP) by the City of Ottawa, which aims to revitalize Montreal Road in Vanier.
If the Mraks go ahead with plans to build a Porsche dealership at Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard, city staff predict that the property taxes for the site would increase to $355,000 per year, or about a 14-fold increase from the property's current tax bill. Under this revitalization program, the city would pay the owners a grant of up to 75 per cent of the difference in tax bills over the next decade.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called it a good deal for taxpayers, and says the city comes out ahead, financially, overall.
"The cost of the CIP is $2.9-million, but the city gains $3.9-million," Watson told the city's finance and economic development committee. "So, there's the math: we're a million dollars ahead."
That increase in tax revenue, Watson argues, is more money for the city to spend on infrastructure and social programs.
Many residents, however, don't see this tax credit the way Watson does and appeared before the committee to ask them to deny the application.
"Money that is supposed to be taxed, but then is untaxed, is money that is lost that could have been used," said Sam Hersh, one of the delegations to the committee. "We need to start talking about untaxed money that way."
Delegations also argued that a luxury car dealership Is not conducive to building the kind of pedestrian-oriented communities Ottawa should be focuses on building. They argue that this development would do little to increase the number of customers in the area who could also shop at other, nearby businesses.
"The grant will not improve the community; it will improve one business in particular," said Phillipe Denault. "In my view, this is equivalent to providing social assistance to a millionaire."
The committee unanimously approved the Mrak application and it is now slated to go before Ottawa city council for final approval on May 26.