Suburban regions are prospering as high commercial property taxes in Toronto add to the forces driving central city businesses out, according to a report by the Toronto Board of Trade on issues that will face mayoral candidates next year.

Economic growth has been averaging 4.2 per cent a year in the 905, versus only 1.2 per cent in Toronto. That’s a “massive” difference, Tim Rider, Greater Toronto regional vice-president at RBC Royal Bank, told a board of trade panel yesterday.

“I can see it every day, in that companies have moved out of Toronto are growing significantly faster than those that have stayed in it.”

Commercial areas of Etobicoke and Scarborough risk sinking into a downward spiral as firms move out, he said. That will turn around only if there’s political will to solve the property tax discrepancy, a major disincentive — along with traffic congestion — to locating in Toronto, he said.

He suggested road tolls may be needed to fight the congestion that also plagues city businesses.

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