Reducing red tape and giving a healthy tax incentive to Trail businesses has led to 15 building improvements in the downtown district which includes Rossland Avenue and East Trail.
The city introduced the Downtown Revitalization Tax Incentive Program in 2013, in hopes of stimulating property upgrades through a 10-year tax break on premises undergoing construction or substantial renovations.
So is the program considered a successful initiative?
“Yes,” explains Corporate Administrator, Michelle McIsaac. “In that it provides a discounted building permit fee as well as an ongoing municipal tax exemption for the following ten years to those private property owners who invest in the improvement of their commercial properties.”
She pointed out the program became community-wide for any Class 6 (business) properties in 2014.
“Council agreed to implement a similar incentive program…in order to encourage commercial property development,” she said. “Three property owners have applied under this program to date.”
Terms of the downtown bylaw require a minimum new construction value of $10,000 on mixed use, commercial and institutional properties, to be eligible for up to a 100 per cent tax freeze over a decade.
Additionally, facade improvements and residential or commercial renovations topping $10,000 are eligible for a 100 per cent tax freeze for six years, followed by a sliding scale tax reduction until the 10th year.
However, the expanded program stipulates that at least $50,000 must be invested in new construction or renovation for that same eligibility.
“Smaller construction projects would likely have little impact on the assessed value of the property,” explained McIsaac.
“So providing an exemption in those circumstances would not necessarily provide any benefit to the owner because the project wouldn’t increase the assessed value of their property.”
Properties that qualify for the tax exemption are subject to a 50 per cent reduction in building permit fees and in both cases, all projects must commence before Dec. 31, 2017.
“For those commercial property owners considering any significant improvements to their properties,” McIsaac advised. “Now is the time to act.”