Council passed the first, second and third reading of a revitalization tax exemption bylaw, aimed at encouraging property owners to improve the appearance of their buildings in the downtown core of Lake Cowichan.
The tax exemption is equivalent to 100 per cent of the municipal property tax payable on the amount change (non-market change) attributed to a given improvement project. Property owners interested in participating in the program must apply for a tax exemption certificate from the town; for the exemption to commence in a given year, the owner must submit an application by July 1 of the preceding year.
The bylaw states that the town “has made significant investments in the community over the last several years, in keeping with council’s vision to create a vibrant and dynamic community. An incentive program has been established to encourage accelerated private sector investment in residential and commercial projects to help achieve council’s vision.” This revitalization tax exemption is one element of that initiative.
At council, chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez acknowledged that this is not the first time the town has tried something like this. “There was a similar tax exemption program that passed a number of years ago. It did not have any takers,” he said.
One possible reason cited for this was a lack of advertising. Earlier this month at the town’s finance and administration committee meeting, councillors suggested sending out information about the incentive to all property owners in the eligible area. Information will also be distributed to relevant property owners when applying for building permits.