Tax incentives may lure investors to town

Vernon eyes revitalization strategy for downtown and Okanagan Lake development

Tax breaks may be one way of bolstering development in parts of Vernon.

City staff will develop a revitalization strategy for downtown and other targeted areas, including a revitalization tax exemption bylaw.

“This is something communities across B.C. have been looking at for years,” said Kevin Poole, economic development manager.

“It can range from revitalizing a specific area or a specific area of the economy.”

In Penticton, an economic investment zone bylaw provides tax relief and a reduction in building permit fees for eligible projects.

“Penticton has six applications related to their tax exemption program,” said Poole.

“It’s definitely a carrot we need to offer to develop in certain regions such as the city centre.”

Besides downtown, the other area that could be targeted as part of an investment zone plan in Vernon is along Okanagan Lake.

Support for a revitalization strategy comes from Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.

“I’d like to ensure we have an active plan for future investment,” she said.

“It’s essential for our future growth.”

Coun. Bob Spiers is willing to consider the concept of tax incentives but he isn’t sure how many revitalization zones are required.

“I have always been an advocate of downtown incentives for housing above commercial uses,” he said.

 

“In terms of what may come for outlying areas, I will have to see what the proposals are.”