- Our Town
OCP guides city’s industrial tax exemption plan
A proposed tax incentive program to attract and promote industry will apply only to industrial properties recognized as such within the official community plan.
Last week, city council gave third reading to the industrial revitalization tax exemption program bylaw. The idea for the bylaw was proposed by Salmon Arm Economic Development Society to give the city a competitive advantage in attracting industry, and to encourage new development and/or expansion. EDS economic development manager Lana Fitt had encouraged the city to provide a 100 per cent exemption of the municipal portion of the property taxation on the assessed value of any new construction project for a period of five years. Initially, the program was based on designated industrial areas in the OCP. However, Fitt said she had learned of industrial properties outside of those areas that are still zoned for industrial use.
“We feel the excluded properties are currently zoned for industrial use and the property owners, as well as any future developers, should have the same benefit of participating in the taxation exemption program,” said Fitt.
City administrator Carl Bannister said staff was not in favour of those properties being eligible for the program, that it “seemed counter productive to provide incentive to build an industrial building where we really don’t want one.”
Among those properties zoned industrial but not designated in the OCP are local gravel pits and a neighbourhood of nine properties near the sewage treatment plant that are zoned light industrial based on historical use, but are designated as medium density residential and city centre.
Coun. Denise Reimer made a motion to include all industrial-zoned properties, and Coun. Ken Jamieson made a motion to include just the gravel pits, but neither was supported.
“I think this is our chance, this is our opportunity to lead industrial-type uses away from the waterfront,” commented Coun. Alan Harrison. “Why would we want to encourage them?”
Council also approved lowering the proposed $500,000 threshold to $300,000, meaning the tax exemption would be applicable for new construction where the value exceeds $300,000.