The council meets on Wednesday and is expected to approve the tax break. The proposal received unanimous support from the finance committee last week. Mark Motors is the first candidate for a two-year City of Ottawa program known as the Community Improvement Program (CIP), which aims to revitalize Main Street in Vanier.
The luxury car dealership is looking to build a flagship Porsche store on Montreal Road and Saint-Laurent Boulevard – currently the site of an Audi and Alfa Romeo / Maserati dealership.
City staff predict that property taxes for the site will reach $ 355,000 per year, 14 times more than what owners are currently paying. In return for the modernization of the property, the city would pay a grant equivalent to 75% of the difference over 10 years.
Residents of Vanier, however, say they are not convinced the grant is necessary and question whether the program’s criteria are being applied correctly. Dozens of people gathered on Tuesday to protest outside the Audi dealership in a last ditch effort to convince councilors to vote against the proposal ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.
Dozens of Vanier residents parked in front of the Audi dealership on the road to Montreal. They are protesting the nearly $ 3M tax break approved by the finance company for a Porsche dealership to be built here. pic.twitter.com/FUY6iU1ZfC
“Vanier is a welcoming community. It’s a community for everyone. It is not a community of millionaires. It’s a community of everyday people who want to see our Main Street filled with businesses that we would use in our daily lives, ”said Laura Shantz.
“We don’t want cash for tax breaks for millionaire dealer owners when we really need small community businesses. “
Protesters said they believed the Mrak family, owners of Mark Motors, would be able to pay the additional $ 2.7 million in property taxes. They said the money could be used for social services and affordable housing in the neighborhood.
“There are a lot of businesses on this street that have been affected by the pandemic… I would like to see them grow and see them prosper before a place I will never go,” said Lauren Seward-Monday, who is also a member. of Ottawa ACORN, a non-profit community advocacy organization.
Residents say application, city report is unclear
In a statement released earlier this week, the Vanier Community Association (ACV) also raised concerns about the application submitted to the city.
Although it initially supported the CIP, the association said the application for the Porsche dealership was unclear on whether the project could continue without the grant. VCA also said the city’s report “did not provide a clear socio-economic analysis.”
“We want to see the Montreal Road become a prosperous and inclusive hub of our community” but this support should be given to “small businesses, full-time jobs with benefits for Vanierois”, as well as affordable housing, in the public art, green initiatives and collective spaces, according to the press release.
Mayor Jim Watson previously said building the Porsche dealership would put the city ahead of a million dollars. He said the money could fund “greater social services, more social housing, greater infrastructure.”