As part of economic recovery efforts, Lethbridge City Council on Monday approved a series of Development Based Incentive Programs to support investors as well as business owners and their employees.
Many of the ideas originated at meetings of the Lethbridge Recovery Committee of Council, where ongoing discussions with the business and development community have identified potential opportunities that fit Lethbridge.
The six areas of focus include: Real Estate Sales and Leases; Affordable/Social Housing Capital Project Grant; Urban Core Housing Incentive Program; Targeted Redevelopment Incentive Program; Urban Core Property Improvement Grant Program; and Industrial Municipal Tax Incentive.
Five of these are existing programs that are being redeveloped for the present situation.
"Our Recovery Committee has been working at finding creative and effective ways to help support our local businesses both now and for when the pandemic one day finally subsides," says Councillor Belinda Crowson, who is also chair of the Recovery Committee. "Money spent locally will help support local jobs and in turn benefit our local economy."
These incentive programs will dedicate $4,015,475 in funding to support economic recovery. These dollars have been committed from existing funding sources and will not impact residential taxes.
"An effective incentive program is based on flexibility that works for the local development economy, with a clear purpose and focus on strategic areas of development," says Michael Kelly, City of Lethbridge Real Estate & Land Development Manager.
Council also voted unanimously to add an amendment that the "City Manager be directed to report back to City Council on the uptake of these programs no later than March 21, 2021."
See the following backgrounder for details of each incentive program.Affordable/Social Housing Capital Project Grant (existing funding)
- Add social housing to the policy with definition
- Intake will be on an ongoing basis rather than once every two years
- Add evaluation criteria for assessing applications
- Delete Social Housing in Action as this group no longer exists
- Maintain maximum level of funding for any one project at $300,000
- Transfer approval of grant allocation to administration (reduce red tape)
- Rename Policy
Real Estate Sales and Leases (no funding required)
- Add leasing option to the policy
- Reformat document
- Rename Policy
Urban Core Property Improvement Grant Program (existing funding)
- Support improvements that spur the preservation, revitalization and reinvestment of properties within the urban core of Lethbridge
- Amendment of existing policy CC61 (Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program): Renamed with expanded purpose; Expanded eligible items including permanent interior improvements, energy retrofitting, and utilities and servicing; and removal of role of Heart of Our City Committee and enhanced role for City Manager or delegate; and 10-year time period limitations on funding maximums
Urban Core Housing Incentive Program ($684,726, transfer from Downtown Development Reserve)
- Support the development of attractive, self-contained market rate dwelling units within the urban core of Lethbridge
- Amendment of existing policy CC52 (Heart of Our City Housing Incentive Program): Renamed with expanded area of eligibility; Updates for consistency with Urban Core Property Improvement Grant Program; Removal of role of Heart of Our City Committee and enhanced role for City Manager or delegate; Lowering of per unit amount from $30,000 per unit to $12,000 for mixed-use and $7,000 for residential; and Establishes a maximum of funding up to 24 units
Targeted Redevelopment Incentive Program ($1 million from Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve)
- Support redevelopment by reducing the effect of an increase in municipal taxes attributable to the differential between pre and post renovation assessments.
- Amendment of existing policy CC53 (Targeted Redevelopment Incentive Policy): Expanded areas of eligible areas and brownfield sites; Addition of lower construction value for projects between $500,000 and $999,999; Ability to stack multiple grants up to the maximum; Addition of second "grant-based" stream for projects that include multiple registered owners with limited assignment ability to first purchaser
Industrial Municipal Tax Incentive Program (no funding required)
- New policy
- The purpose of the policy is to attract new industrial investment into Lethbridge
- Opportunity for partial municipal tax cancellation
- Cancellation term will verify on the amount of the investment
- All applications to be submitted to City Council for approval