With “for lease” signs popping up everywhere in Vancouver’s commercial districts, it’s become crystal clear just how difficult the situation is for our city’s small businesses.
Online retail is part of the reason so many small businesses are closing shop. Many of us now find the convenience of shopping with our keyboards much preferable to walking through our neighbourhood stores. I confess — I’m one of those consumers.
But a much larger and more significant cause of small business failure is the astronomical rent increases they’ve had to endure in Vancouver over the past decade. With the local real estate boom, landlords have jacked up lease rates far beyond the inflation rate. Most of the “for lease” signs we see in our local shopping districts are the result of the commercial tenant’s lease expiring and the landlord demanding rent far in excess of what the long-time commercial tenant can afford.
Much has been made recently of the need to protect residential tenants from high rental increases. Last week, the provincial government reduced from 4.5% to 2.5% the maximum amount a landlord can raise a residential tenants’ rent by in 2019.
I say it’s well past time for government to introduce legislation protecting commercial tenants. If there can be a cap on residential rent increases, why not a cap on commercial rental rate increases, too? This wouldn’t just benefit commercial tenants — it would also do a lot to keep our local shopping districts alive and vibrant by dramatically reducing the number of empty storefronts.
If the provincial government isn’t prepared to take action and introduce legislation to protect commercial tenants, then I call on the City of Vancouver to do so.
It’s election time! Let’s make sure that the candidates we vote for in the upcoming municipal election are prepared to stand up for commercial tenants. If we don’t take action now, we’ll soon have no other choice than to drive to suburban malls or shop on-line with our keyboards.
Remember, voting day is October 20. Advance voting is October 10–17. Check to see if you’re already registered, and/or find more 2018 election info here!