Residents turn out to protest planned tax break for Montreal Road Porsche dealership
OTTAWA -- A controversial decision by the city’s finance committee to grant a luxury car dealership a community development grant sparked a protest in Vanier Tuesday evening.
About 70 activists and Vanier residents gathered outside the Mark Motors Audi dealership on Montreal Road to demand the funds be used for community priorities.
Terhas Ghebretecie, who lives in the community, does not think a mulit-million dollar business should be getting support from the city.
“I’m here because I don’t support the Porsche dealership using public money, subsidized funds to build a new dealership here where I live in Vanier,” Ghebretecie said. “The funds could be spent on community housing, local businesses, businesses that will actually create jobs for local people.”
The project by Mrak Holdings Inc., a.k.a. Mark Motors of Ottawa, would be built at 458 Montreal Rd., currently the site of an Audi dealership, while an existing Porsche dealership stands just down the street at 611 Montreal Rd.
Mark Motors expects to double the staff of the current dealership once the new one is complete.
“They have every right to protest. We will be responding with a fact sheet after the vote at council,” Michael Mrak, the co-owner of Mark Motors told CTV News Ottawa.
City staff say the city expects to cover the $2.9 million grant with a major increase in property taxes at the site – from $25,627 per year to $355,619 per year.
Mayor Jim Watson supports the grant, calling it an investment in the community.
"This is not a grant in the traditional sense where something is given and nothing is returned. This is an investment to act as a magnet to attract businesses to an economically challenged neighbourhood."
Horizon Ottawa’s Sam Hersh questions that thinking, saying the cities priorities need to change.
“There’s a lot of things the money should be spent on. We have an opioid crisis, housing crises, climate crisis,” Hersh said. “The fact that we are spending more money waiving tax increases for a Porsche dealership than on our plan for climate change really speaks to the priorities of the city.”
The final decision on the grant rests with Ottawa City Council on Wednesday.