Changes approved to RM's tax exemption policy

·3 min read

Changes to the RM of Edenwold’s tax exemption strategy for new construction were proposed to council on Feb. 9 in hopes of reducing the impact to new ratepayers.

Planning officer Jessica Mitchell said the commercial and infill residential lots, which have a tax exemption for their first three years once built, had been granted the exemption before those structures were fully put on the tax roll, starting the tax exemption clock prematurely.

“We are proposing Year 1 of the exemption be deferred until after the building receives final inspection,” Mitchell said. “The second change is we have split out the infill (development) policies so that the policy has a deadline of December 31, 2023, just to provide an incentive for people to take advantage of it while it is still available.”

Reeve Mitch Huber asked what happens if the deadline passes without an application for infill housing tax incentives.

“You would no longer be eligible under the existing policy,” Mitchell replied.

Coun. Wayne Joyce agreed there should be a hard deadline for applications.

“At the end of the day, when the economy turns around, and even when we look at housing numbers today being fairly brisk, you could ask if we really need that,” Joyce said. “In a COVID world, it makes sense to try to fill in those infill lots. If you have enough of an uptake, in a few years you might not be as worried about the number of infill lots available. Development would be more complete than it has been and that would get the job done.”

Huber agreed, to an extent.

“We’ve got nothing but field here, nothing but space,” Huber said. “So the more incentives we have, I remember when Ben (Kuzmicz) came to us with plans to develop that industrial land and if we had said ‘no’ that day you may have some development there but you sure wouldn’t have what you have there today. If you invest today, in three years we collect new taxes. I think this is a great policy.”

Huber then noted the city of Estevan has advertised having $1 commercial lots to generate growth.

“We have an opportunity to capitalize on development and growth and if we have to suck up the development costs for three years, I think it’s a great direction for council to take,” Huber said.

Joyce agreed the policy has brought more business to the community, but added there needed to be an incentive to develop sooner than later.

Planning and development manager Jana Jedlic said the 2023 deadline date was chosen for the infill development only, to gauge whether the program was successful for residential developments.

“With the infill and if someone has been sitting on a lot for six years, and they think if they wait another six years they will get the exemption, the risk is you won’t,” Jedlic said. “Then it becomes build on that lot or sell it to someone who will.”

While there was a discussion about whether to include expansions and accessory buildings to new the tax exemption policy, council consensus was not to include them. They are not included in the existing policy.

Joyce argued if a business comes to the community and later expands its operations, the tax exemption policy will have already been deemed a success. For that reason, he would not support extending the policy to business expansions and accessory buildings.

Council voted to approve an amended a building-only tax exemption at 100 per cent for qualifying properties for three years.

Infill residential tax exemptions were also set at 100 per cent for three years.

Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum