WEYBURN – The City of Weyburn is hoping to attract and retain new businesses, and encourage existing businesses to grow and expand, with the launching of a new commercial incentive program, approved by council on Monday evening.
The program was developed by the Economic Ad Hoc committee, which included members of administration, council, and the Economic Development office, including executive director Larry Heggs, and members of the Chamber of Commerce.
The program will provide tax incentives for new construction, façade and site improvements, and for new businesses locating in vacant buildings.
For façade and site improvements, the program seeks to encourage property and business owners to renovate, restore or redesign existing building façades and sites. Home-based businesses are not eligible for this incentive.
The program will provide a rebate of 25 per cent of the combined total cost of eligible façade or site improvements, with a maximum rebate of $5,000 based on a total cost of $20,000. The grant will be credited to the tax roll of the property.
The eligible improvements include awnings, canopies, exterior lighting, doors, windows, exterior painting, siding, brick cleaning, landscaping, signage, parking lot resurfacing, curbing and sidewalks or walkways.
For new construction, the intent is to encourage new development on a vacant property.
The tax incentives are 100 per cent tax abatements for the first three years, with full abatement available for a fourth year if the development is worth between $1.5 and $2.49 million, and a fifth year if the development is worth over $2.5 million. The minimum value of new construction is $500,000.
There are a number of conditions for eligibility, including that the building must meet all applicable building safety codes, it needs land use approval through a development permit, and is not to abate past improvements.
For vacant buildings, the program’s intent is to attract new businesses and develop employment opportunities in currently vacant commercial and industrial buildings.
The incentive is 100 per cent tax abatement for one year.
The building must be vacant for a year prior to possession date, and the project must meet all building safety codes, development requirements and comply with zoning bylaw requirements.
“I just want to commend staff who sat on this committee. We’ve been talking about this for a few years. I think it’s very, very well written and covers all the questions. We’re getting toward the end of COVID and people are getting excited to get going again,” said Coun. Mel Van Betuw, adding, “I’ve been a strong proponent for getting this put forward.”
Coun. Dick Michel added his voice to those comments, and said it’s proof that when a group works for a long time on a project, things get done.
Coun. Jeff Richards said a lot of hard work went into it, and pointed out that it wasn’t just by staff at City Hall, but from down the street from Economic Development and the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce.
Asked if there was a cap to the program, or if there will be a review, city manager Mathew Warren noted there is not a cap on the program at the current time, and added it will be reviewed in one year’s time to see how well it worked and what might need to be tweaked or changed. The implementation date for the program is Jan. 1, 2022.