Photo Credit: City of St. Catharines
City Council has approved St. Catharines 2020 Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to provide funding for redevelopment projects that include the provision of affordable housing, commercial buildings and heritage preservation, in addition to Brownfield sites to ensure contaminated land is cleaned up and restored.
The first St. Catharines CIP was launched in 2004 in order to offer financial incentive programs to the private sector to help stimulate projects that support local community renewal. The incentives offset a portion of the project costs related to redevelopment, reuse and rehabilitation of the built environment.
“This latest version of the CIP is a progressive plan, in alignment with the city’s strategic plan and the land use framework established in our official plan,” said Bruce Bellows, Senior Planner for the City of St. Catharines. “It takes a proactive approach to revitalizing, reshaping and positioning our city as an attractive place to live and do business.”
Since 2004, the city has approved 98 CIP applications with a commitment of approximately $20.75 million. Once all projects are completed as approved, they will have generated approximately 2,100 new residential dwelling units, 280 permanent new jobs and an estimated increase in property tax assessment of $396 million.
The previous CIP, which was released in 2015, offered five financial incentive programs to the private sector to stimulate new investment in community renewal projects. In spring of 2019, the city paused the CIP to undertake a full review of the program and its alignment with strategic plan objectives, long-term sustainability and maximizing value.
Within the CIP, a number of sub-programs are outlined to guide development projects. This includes the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Program for redevelopment projects, the Brownfield Tax Increment Finance (BTIF) Program, the Brownfield Tax Assistance (BTA) Program, the Facade Improvement (FIP) Program for building facade, storefront enhancement and the Residential Office Conversion (ROC) Program that deals with the conversion of small, unused vacant space for new residential dwelling units or leasable office space.
With the review complete, City Council has now signed off on changes to the program that include a greater emphasis on redevelopment projects. Such projects include affordable housing development, rehabilitation of commercial buildings and aging plazas, heritage site preservation and restoration and brownfield remediation.
The by-law was formally passed and enacted on November 16. Following the legislated procedures, the new CIP is expected to come into effect in mid-December 2020.
Individuals who desire to find out more information about the updated CIP are encouraged to visit the city’s website at www.stcatharines.ca. Those with specific questions about the plan are encouraged to email Bellows at [email protected].