New development incentives have been announced in hopes of sprucing up Fort Saskatchewan's downtown core.
On May 24, city council unanimously voted in favour of two incentives to encourage residential development; the Brownfield Tax Exemption and a Downtown Development Grant.
The Downtown Action Plan was adopted by city council in 2021. This plan reflects that most people see downtown development as a priority and by implementing these incentives the city hopes to achieve that.
“When we start looking at some of the statistics and the data the domestic market for downtown is quite small,” Mark Morrissey, the director of economic development for the City of Fort Saskatchewan
According to Morrissey approximately 16 per cent of the city's population lives closer to downtown than the highway commercial areas.
The Brownfield Tax Exemption would exempt 100% of the municipal portion of property taxes on certain new multi-unit and mixed-use residential developments for a period of up to 15 years. The total value of the tax exemptions will depend on the capital costs to build the development.
“It’s specifically for those properties that may or may not be contaminated. So, we looked at past uses for those sites and based on past uses there’s a possibility that these sites could have some contamination in them. It’s not been confirmed and it doesn’t need to be confirmed to be eligible.”
These properties include places like former gas stations, service stations, dry cleaners and rail yards.
Currently, there is no indication that these properties are contaminated here in Fort Saskatchewan but based on past use there is a risk.
The Downtown Development Grand is intended to work hand in hand with the Brownfield Tax Exemption. The grant will provide cash to the properties in downtown that do not qualify for the tax exemption.
“Because there is a limited number of properties in the downtown that met the eligibility criteria for Brownfield Tax incentives we wanted to make sure we were kind of capturing all of downtown and providing opportunities for those property owners or those developers across the downtown.”
Certain new multi-unit and mixed-use development projects may be eligible for a grant equivalent to 3 per cent of the capital costs to build the project but this will be calculated after the project is complete.
“We are hoping to see a few projects move forward in the couple of years just to create more of that density in the downtown, more people living down here who will shop at the local businesses .”
Anyone who has questions on these new incentives is encouraged to contact the City’s Economic Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 780-992-6231.