By Roy Wood
The town of Oliver will continue, at least until 2023, to offer tax exemptions to residential, commercial and industrial developers willing to build in any of four designated revitalization zones.
The program is one of the key tools in the town’s ongoing struggle to attract development in the downtown core and the industrial areas.
Council agreed unanimously on Monday with the idea to extend the program for a further five years. “It has been great, but we need to extend it, particularly for downtown revitalization,” said Mayor Ron Hovanes.
The program offers 10-year exemptions from the municipal tax portion – excluding school, hospital and fire protection — of the property tax bill. It extends only to the value of the improvements to the land in question, not to the value of the land.
In most cases, the exemption covers 100 per cent for the first five years and gradually diminishes over the final five years.
According to a report to council from chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan, just one business – Cool Creek Energy – has so far taken advantage of the program, which went into effect in 2013. She added, however, that the Burrowing Owl Winery is expected to apply for the exemption once it has completed construction of a $1-million facility in the industrial area.
As well, the hotel that is planned for the Centennial RV Park site has also been approved for the 10-year exemption. The hotel deal includes a 100-per-cent exemption for the whole 10 years. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.
The hotel site is located in the downtown zone. Cowan’s report pointed out that the town’s strategic plan calls for a separate “hotel zone” and that staff will bring forward recommendations for the creation of the fifth zone for hotels.
The current four zones include:
The Downtown Commercial Revitalization zone, which runs roughly from the river to a block or two west of Main Street and from just south of Fairview to the Main Street/Station Street intersection.
The Core Area Residential Revitalization zone, which from Fairview north, just to the west of the downtown commercial zone.
The Industrial Revitalization zone, which includes the industrial area to the east and north of the airport.
The Airport Revitalization zone, which includes the Oliver Airport.
Town staff will draft the new bylaw extending the program and bring it back to council for three readings and adoption.