Incentive promotes Vernon city centre/waterfront area development

A financial carrot is being dangled in front of potential developers in Vernon.

Council agreed Monday to provide tax exemptions to encourage revitalization projects in the city centre district and the Lakeshore Road waterfront area.

“We don’t have many tools to implement the official community plan and this is one of them,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“If we don’t do this, nothing will change.”

In both areas, a 10-year tax exemption is possible for redevelopment but that will start to decline annually after the fifth year.

The exemption will be based on the difference between the assessed value before and after the project is completed.

As an example, a property assessed at $500,000 may be valued at $1.5 million after redevelopment. That means the tax exemption will be $1 million.

“We want to encourage development to happen sooner than if it’s  left to its own,” said Kevin Poole, economic development manager.

While other B.C. communities have only offered five-year exemptions, Poole believes 10 years is critical.

“The goal is to reward people for following the (official community) plan,” he said.

“We want to make sure it’s worthwhile for developers to take advantage of it.”

In terms of the city centre/downtown core, tax exemptions will be available for new construction as well as facade improvements and major interior upgrades in new buildings. Residential housing will be promoted.

For the waterfront area, only commercial activities, such as hotels, will be considered for the exemption.

“This is something we’ve talked about for a year,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe of tax breaks to stimulate growth in specific neighbourhoods.

“Anything we can do to help in these areas will be a benefit.”

The exemption policy will be reviewed at the end of 2014.



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