Council held off on adopting changes to the city’s downtown tax exemption bylaw Tuesday night on the advice of the mayor.
Currently, improvements on facilities located within a special commercial area in and around the St. Ann’s block are eligible for a commercial tax exemption of 50 per cent on building improvements for three years. The city wants to change that to increase the tax incentive to 100 per cent for five years to encourage development in the downtown core.
The exemption is triggered if renovations to an existing building cause the value of the building to increase. But Mayor Walter Jakeway said he was voting opposed to the changes because he believes the general tax exemption area which runs from Highway 19A near 5th Avenue to the south and to Roberts Reach and Highway 19A to the north, should be expanded.
“I believe the area being considered is too small,” Jakeway said. “I believe it should be going from the Maritime Heritage Centre to the bridge (over the Campbell River in Campbellton).”
Jakeway also didn’t like the idea of passing all three readings of a bylaw amendment at the same meeting and he thought the exemption was too much.
“I believe the 100 per cent exemption is too high, it should be 70 per cent,” Jakeway said. “I also have a problem approving a bylaw on the first time seeing it.”
Coun. Larry Samson agreed and made a motion to give only first and second reading of the bylaw change, which was subsequently approved by council. The bylaw likely will be up for third reading in two weeks. If approved, new and re-developed multi-family complexes, and new or re-developed commercial buildings within the downtown general tax exemption area would be eligible for the tax incentives.
A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum or Gold-rated building located within the St. Ann’s block special commercial area would be eligible for the 100 per cent tax exemption for seven years.