Local developers can now benefit from changes to two city policies.
At Tuesday evening’s council meeting, council was unanimous in passing updates to the development incentive policy and the city’s grant-making policy in light of issues raised by local developers.
Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu voted with the rest of council in favour of the change to the development incentive policy.
Before doing so, she voiced her support, noting that if this is the way the policy needs to be adjusted to encourage more development of supportive housing, the change should be approved.
As was highlighted in an earlier report on the development incentive policy, two developers are working on projects that would include rental housing they had believed would meet the requirements for the development incentive.
The projects also include, however, commercial units that are planned to be sold as condo units to help finance the rental and supportive housing units, so would not have met the requirements.
“This type of conventional condominium subdivision (strata) is currently prohibited under the development incentives policy, as it is difficult to track ownership and status of individual units,” city staff noted in their report to council.
The changes apply to existing and future projects now allows a developer to subdivide rental/supportive housing units from a non-residential component of a building though a condominium subdivision process.
“In this situation, all housing units would remain as a single legal entity that could not be subdivided further.”
Other requirements for the incentive remain in place, including rental or supportive housing units remain as such for at least 10 years.
If the units cease to be rentals or supportive housing units, the developer is required to pay back any grants from the city.
Allowing developers to subdivide and sell commercial parts of the building could help finance the rental and/or supportive units, it was pointed out in the report.
Meanwhile, the grant-making policy was changed to provide an exemption on the $50,000 cap for all approved major development incentives as well as those that have submitted applications (if approved) by Oct. 1 of this year.
That came forward after issues arose for developers over the $50,000-per-year cap on city grants.
In a previous report, city staff noted a proposal for a multi-phased subsidized rental housing project has come forward and that each phase of the project would be eligible for grants to offset property taxes to a maximum of $500,000 over 10 years.
“However, the city grant-making policy cap of $50,000 per year would result in the developer receiving only a partial grant on the second phase and no grant for subsequent phases,” it was noted.
“This inconsistency between the policies is unintended, and may cause issues for additional developers who have received approval for their major development incentive applications under the development incentives policy.
“It should be noted that grants provided by the city under the development incentives policy reflect the amount that the subsidized development expands the tax-base with the associated tax revenues retained by the city after the expiry of the incentive agreement.”
It’s expected a total of three projects could be impacted by the change.
Coun. Dan Boyd supported the exemption. However, he also commented that the city council to be elected Oct. 18 should take a more detailed look at the policy and make any necessary changes.
“This is very much a Band-Aid,” he said of the exemption passed last night.
Mayor Dan Curtis then voiced his agreement with Boyd.
“It needs a good look,” he said.
The decisions on both policies were among the last for this council, with last night’s meeting marking their final regular session before the election.
Coun. Rob Fendrick – the only incumbent not seeking re-election next week – attended the meeting by phone.