City Council voted today to sweeten a downtown redevelopment incentive program to help attract new commercial investment and spur revitalization in the area.
Council members approved a recommendation from the Heart of Our City Committee to broaden the scope of eligibility and lower the investment threshold required to qualify for the Targeted Redevelopment Incentive Program (TRIP), which offers a range of municipal tax cancellations for new downtown construction or improvements to existing downtown buildings. Established in 2015, the original TRIP offered a five-year tax cancellation for new downtown construction worth at least $10 million on buildings at least three storeys high, but the program attracted no takers.
"Downtown revitalization remains a key strategic priority for City Council. We've seen tremendous uptake on incentives for downtown residential development, and we're confident these changes to the TRIP will have the desired effect of attracting new downtown commercial investment, either in the form of new construction or in significant renovations that add value to existing downtown buildings," said Councillor Ryan Parker, Council's representative on the Heart of Our City Committee.
Key changes to the TRIP include:
- Lowering the minimum verified construction value to $1 million
- Extending the tax-cancellation period to a range of six to 11 years
- Requiring a minimum of two storeys instead of three
- Making renovation projects eligible, such as: adding floors, installing above- or below-ground parking, asbestos removal, installation of sprinkler systems for fire suppression, upgrades to electrical systems, installation of elevators or other accessibility improvements, and improvements to building facades
- Increasing the maximum total municipal tax cancellation benefit for any single project to $4 million from $2 million.
- Establishing a range of investment thresholds that reward larger investments with greater tax cancellation benefits and longer applicability periods
In addition to the TRIP, the City also has the Heart of Our City Housing Incentive Program (HOCHIP), which provides $30,000 per new residential unit developed. Individual projects are not eligible to obtain funding from more than one of these incentive programs.
Gerald Gauthier, Communications Consultant
City of Lethbridge