Tax Exemptions for Downtown Squamish in the Offing

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept. 8, 2012

Kamloops offers a gradual ten-year break on taxes.

Campbell River offers a 100 per cent tax reduction on new multi-family or new commercial buildings in special areas.

Abbotsford and Chilliwack, too, offer similar exemptions for new improvements or alterations to existing buildings.

All share one goal: Revitalizing some part of their community by giving tax incentives.

Can Squamish launch programs with a similar bent? What kind of incentives can Squamish offer to bring a new energy into the downtown core?

These questions brought a diverse range of Squamish citizens to the municipal hall at the economic development committee meeting on Tuesday, Sept 4.

Developers, relators, councilors, and other engaged citizens debated the issue, as consultants from City Space Consulting gave a presentation on the options before the council.

The council also passed a motion to bring a RTE (Revitalization Tax Exemption) bylaw to a future council meeting.  

Not surprisingly, the top issues were jobs, development and revitalization in the downtown, a mix of housing and commercial, and transportation to Vancouver.

Michael Hutchison said the Oceanfront lands are a key to developing the downtown.

“If there is a university going somewhere in downtown, it’s not Cleveland Ave, it would be Oceanfront,” he said.

He also said it needs to be made clear the tax exemptions being offered wouldn’t be a direct benefit for the developer, but for the commercial tenant.

Realtor Darren McCartney said although downtown businesses were providing a great service, any revitalization effort for employment should be focused on high-tech, light industrial or manufacturing industry.

Mike Bosa from Solterra suggested the district could do a better job of cleaning the area around Loggers Lane.

“You can’t even see the marina when you are here,” he said.

He also said Squamish needs to focus on enhancing transportation options to Vancouver.

“Connectivity is a huge selling point,” he said.

There was a lack of consensus on the precise boundaries of downtown Squamish.

Coun. Ted Prior said revitalization shouldn’t be limited to just the downtown core, but should be extended to other parts of the town also.

Some, like Hutchinson, suggested the area along the Loggers Lane, near the adventure centre, should be included in the revitalization plan.

Eric Andersen said the BIA might have different view on downtown boundaries, although no BIA representative was present.

Tom Bruusgard, Kerry Brown, James Morris, David Rittberg, and Chris Pettingill were among those who attended the meeting.  





  1. Moe says:

    This should not be an either or situation, all of the suggestions mentioned above, plus many others should be considered, vetted and implemented. Squamish meeds to press forward on all fronts. Cherry picking one or two development strategies will most likely keep us where we are.

  2. Laura Modray says:

    I find the timing of this very interesting considering many of our local non-profits have just been informed that they are no longer eligible for tax exemption. Most of these non-profits also are located in the downtown area and provide very valuable services to the community. Due to the recent change in the Permissive Tax Exemption Policy, non-profits are told to redirect their requests through the Community Enhancement Grants Process. So now they are looking at giving tax exemptions to promote growth in the downtown core….why dont they support the ones who are here already?

  3. Don Patrick says:

    Many of the immenities existing in Squamish have been created by the initatives of non-profit seekers, eg: the golf course, yacht club, fire department, ambulance service , senior housing and even the home support group…and yes some evolve into large burdens on the community…but there are others that would never exist if the initative had to come from profit seekers or the government of the day. Many of these non-profit immenties make Squamish a great place to live….try to name a few profit type developements that stand out enough to encourage outsiders to move and live in Squamish. Sure some projects are necessary and should be encouraged but do not lose sight of the many offerings that are provided to the people of Squamish that did not cost city hall a cent. The Airport comes to mind, a $5mil project created by a group of locals and given to the Municipality. The first hospital, centennial fields, original curling club, first swiming pool, the ice arena are a few other examples. The latter was a shared construction with many dollars and hours coming from the local businesses and citizens directly… not to be labour the subject, but where is the incentive coming from these days for local citizens to become involved to better the community ? The saddledome at the entrance to town could have been built by a non-profit group if deemed necessary for the town to evolve to another level but I do not believe those interested were lobbied. Yes, I am a student of the 60″s and really don’t count… so over and out.