By Steve Hubrecht
Canal Flats recently adopted a bylaw waiving municipal taxes for all new businesses and light industrial operations anywhere in the village.
The bylaw is part of the village’s efforts to re-establish its population and eventually increase its non-residential tax base.
Many other B.C. municipalities have bylaws eliminating municipal taxes for new businesses in certain areas of their communities in which they specifically want to encourage development, but few have such bylaws that encompass the entire municipality, as does the Canal Flats bylaw, and fewer still include commercial entities that fall into both B.C. Assessment’s ‘business/other’ classification and its ‘light industrial’ classification.
“Jobs are key and critical to keeping the village sustainable, and this new bylaw is a strong play to get more business accelerated,” said Canal Flats mayor Karl Sterzer in a press release.
“This is another step in bringing new businesses and, most importantly, new jobs to the village,” Canal Flats chief administrative officer Adrian Bergles told the Pioneer. “This is unique not only in its combination of business and light industrial applications but in how it is not tied to geography. Usually, these kinds of bylaw will apply just to the downtown, or to an industrial area. Our applies in any suitably-zoned location in the village.”
The new bylaw, officially called the Canal Flats revitalization tax incentive bylaw, replaces an existing bylaw, which was similar in intent but much smaller in scope and which applied only to one street (Grainger Road) in downtown Canal Flats.
“This is a much broader stroke,” Bergles told the Pioneer. “Canal Flats does have a lot of industrial land in the village, and hopefully this will help redevelop some of that.”
Bergles noted that ‘light industrial’ includes operations such as tire shops, cabinet makers, auto shops and other similar uses but does not include large-scale, heavy operations such as another sawmill. He re-emphasized that a location must already have relevant zoning for a business to set up there and apply for the municipal tax exemption under the new bylaw.
“We would like to get the village population back up to where it once was,” said Bergles. “The intent is that this may help us get some traction with that.”
He noted the bylaw is one of many attractive qualities offered by the village when it comes to doing business, including industrial land availability, ample water, fibre optic connectivity, affordable living and high quality of life for employees, and low business costs.
Businesses or light industrial enterprises that invest in improvements of existing business spaces, to the tune of $5,000 or more, can also apply to have municipal taxes waived under the new bylaw.
Under the bylaw, the tax exemption can last for up to six years, on a reverse sliding scale, with 100 per cent of new assessment waived in the first three years, 80 per cent waived in the fourth year, 60 per cent waived in the fifth year, and 40 per cent in the sixth year.
The bylaw has only been in place a few weeks, and the village has not had any new businesses try to take advantage of it yet, but Bergles noted that “we are open to applications.”
More details about the bylaw can be found at canalflats.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/108?preview=20795.