Survey Results have Corktown Businesses Calling for Commercial Rent Freeze

75% Can’t Pay May Rent, Little Relief From Landlords

Over a 10 day period starting in late March, the Corktown Residents and Business Association (CRBA) conducted a survey of businesses in downtown Toronto.  The results indicate that Business Owners are hoping for further government action at all 3 levels to avoid a complete Small Business collapse.

“Businesses in Corktown responded loud and clear to our recent survey – the Province needs to implement a Commercial Rent Freeze immediately.”
Says Aaron Binder, President of the Corktown Residents and Business Association.  “Over 75% of business owners that responded to our survey in the Distillery District and Corktown have indicated they won’t meet their May rent obligation. Commercial Landlords are still expecting businesses to pay up after being shut down.”

Corktown’s survey is showing the cracks of an already pricey Toronto commercial rental market.  Some businesses in the neighbourhood have relocated to less expensive parts of Ontario in recent years while others have gone completely digital.  The COVID-19 Pandemic could accelerate both trends.  “Business owners know that Toronto is a tough market but nobody has gone through something like this before.  That’s why we’re urging Doug Ford and the Ontario PC’s to give businesses a fighting chance with an immediate Commercial Rent Freeze.” Says Binder.

The CRBA plans to work with neighbouring BIA’s and other advocacy groups in the coming weeks to develop more surveys and continue fighting for a Commercial Rent Freeze. 

Key Survey Takeaways

  1. Business Revenue has taken a massive hit downtown Toronto and shifting to Digital or Take-Out and Delivery hasn’t been a success for many
  2. Businesses are trying to adapt through new revenue models and cost-cutting but there still isn’t enough revenue to pay bills or rent
  3. Over 75% of respondents cannot pay May Rent, almost 30% still haven’t paid April
  4. 1 in 5 Business Owners will not take a loan to continue paying operating costs
Data analysis prepared by Will Meneray.

For further information or interviews, contact Aaron Binder at or 416-677-5088.  Corktown’s survey was conducted between March 26th – April 4th and had 43 business owner respondents.

Summary data from the survey can be found here.  For data points, email

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