District Rolls Out Tax Exemption Program

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The downtown tax incentive area.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Feb. 17, 2014

District of Squamish has rolled out its first-ever investment incentive program, available to developers from now through to August 31, 2016.

Property tax exemptions and façade improvement grants for commercial and mixed-use developments in the downtown core and the business park will be provided.

The incentives included a 5-year property tax exemption on the assessed value of the improvements made by the developer.

It is not, however, an exemption on the taxes that are currently being paid; the exemption is on the portion of taxes that would increase as a result of the improvements.

To some extent, Squamish has borrowed the idea from Maple Ridge, but several other cities in the province also offer tax incentive programs to spur downtown development.

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The business park tax incentive area

Chilliwack, Kamloops, Abbotsford, Prince George, Victoria and Parksville all offer tax exemptions to stimulate growth in their respective downtowns.

“Business growth and new business investment contribute towards achieving a diverse, thriving and resilient economy ,” said Squamish mayor Rob Kirkham.

Kirkham said the incentives will provide an additional push for investment in Squamish, which will lead to job growth in town. This is a list of exemptions being offered.

Downtown Commercial Projects:

  • Minimum building permit value of $500,000;
  • Building permit issued between November 6, 2013 and  August 31, 2016;
  • Incentives: five-year property tax exemption on the assessed value of the improvements.

Downtown Mixed Use Projects:

  • Minimum building permit value of $1,000,000;
  • Building permit issued between November 6, 2013 and August 31, 2016;
  • Incentives: five-year property tax exemption on the assessed value of the improvements.

Business Park Industrial Projects:

  • Minimum building permit value of $500,000;
  • Building permit issued between November 6, 2013 and August 31, 2016;
  • Incentives: five-year property tax exemption on the assessed value of the improvements.

Downtown Façade Improvements:

  • Businesses located in the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Area (BIA) can qualify for a grant of 50 per cent of façade improvement costs (minimum project cost of $1000), to a maximum grant of $1,000.

Grants for the “Look Fresh – Façade Improvement Program” are being provided by the BIA.

Christine Elliott of Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association (DSBIA) said the members are very interested in the new opportunity, but no one has applied yet.

“The district is a partner and has been very helpful getting this project going,” she said.