Taking care of business: Preserving independent small businesses in Vancouver

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Independent small businesses make essential contributions to the economic and social wellbeing of their communities. In Vancouver, BC, a number of factors, including rising property taxes and rents, property redevelopment, labour shortage, and changing retail market trends, have contributed to a high number of independent businesses closing in recent years. This study uses available data to examine the rate of closure of these businesses across Vancouver, and the extent to which various factors contribute to their closure. Three policy options are considered to address independent small business closure: strengthening development requirements to increase the supply of affordable retail spaces; a municipal revitalization tax exemption to offer property tax relief to independent small businesses; and the creation of a small business assistance office. All of these options have the potential to address the policy problem, and some variant of each should be explored by the City of Vancouver.
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