Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is preparing to take Ottawa taxpayers for quite a ride.
Ottawa city council’s finance committee voted to give a $2.9 million tax break to a new Porsche dealership. Ottawa’s municipal politicians are literally planning to hand over millions of taxpayer dollars to a luxury car dealership. And they think this is a win for hardworking taxpayers.
Financing this new Porsche dealership will be “a very good deal for taxpayers,” said Watson.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
The future Porsche dealership’s owners only expect to create 20 new jobs.
That means that even if this new dealership creates 20 new jobs, and there’s no guarantee that it will, Ottawa city council is handing Porsche $145,000 for every job this new dealership will create in the city of Ottawa.
Watson could literally save money if he bought twenty random Ottawans Porsches to drive to work.
The City of Ottawa seems to be taking corporate welfare to a whole new level. While corporate welfare is never the answer, spending more than six figures to create a single job is the very definition of a bad deal.
Watson might want to do a little homework to better understand what exactly distinguishes a good deal from a terrible one.
Despite vigorously supporting the Porsche handout, Watson’s public comments suggest that even he sees that this handout won’t directly generate any significant financial gain for the city of Ottawa.
Instead, he’s falling back on a different argument.
“This is an investment to act as a magnet to attract business to an economically challenged neighbourhood,” said Watson.
In other words, Watson knows that the deal itself won’t directly benefit Ottawa financially. Rather, he seems to think that it’s the answer to improving Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood.
If Watson really can’t think of a better way to help improve Vanier beyond handing out millions to a luxury automaker, he might want to look for a new line of work.
One idea to make the neighbourhood more livable would be property tax relief for everyone rather than millions focused on a Porsche dealership.
Watson and Ottawa City Council are planning to increase property taxes throughout the city by three per cent this year, even though hardworking taxpayers are still dealing with the economic implications of the pandemic.
If Watson genuinely wants to help struggling neighbourhoods, he should begin by improving affordability. Taxpayers will be able to improve their own lives with more money in their pockets.
A luxury Porsche dealership isn’t going to magically improve the fortunes of struggling taxpayers trying to make ends meet.
To add insult to injury, Ottawa already has a Porsche dealership.
While Ottawans are rightly outraged, they’re not the only ones who should be concerned.
The government of Ontario is transferring $751 million from the province to the city to help finance the City of Ottawa’s 2021 budget. That means that even if you live in Kenora or Windsor, your money is helping to pay for this corporate welfare, Porsche style.
Ottawa City Council still must formally approve its Porsche grant at their next meeting on May 26. It’s not too late for Ottawa’s politicians to do the right thing.
When council meets next week, Watson and his city council allies need to rethink their support for this deal. It’s wrong to hike property taxes and then give a multi-million-dollar tax break to a Porsche dealership.
Jay Goldberg is a Troy Media columnist and Interim Ontario Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
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