Community Improvement Program a focus on residents

 

The Community Improvement Plan provides a number of benefits for the residents of Chatham-Kent. In the short term, we hope to see an influx of investment and jobs for the construction of new buildings. In the medium-term, we hope to see a variety of new, affordable, homes to address our house and rental shortage and grow our population. In the long-term, we expect to see land that had minimal tax assessment turn to high-value land that generates tax revenue.

It also means more families, which in turn means full schools, full recreational facilities such as arenas, and an affordable and sustainable community for years to come.

What is a Community Improvement Plan?

A Community Improvement Plan encourages rehabilitation initiatives and/or stimulates new development. Once implemented, the plan allows municipalities to provide tax assistance, grants, or loans to assist in the rehabilitation of lands and/or buildings within the defined Community Improvement Project Area.

The Chatham-Kent Community Improvement Plan is a way to support our municipal Growth Strategy and 2018-2022 Council Term Priorities across all of Chatham-Kent.

Are we losing taxes through incentives?

No. In basic terms, a developer looking at land with a tax bill of $400 a year can develop the property and use the CIP to continue to pay that same $400 a year in taxes for up to 10 years (depending on the project). After 10 years, the developer would begin paying more taxes based on the new assessed value of the land and buildings.  Given that buildings last for many decades, the municipality would collect the new higher taxes for years to come.

Why do we need to grow? What is at stake?

Based on the findings of a recent Municipal Comprehensive Review, we are at a moment where we can choose status quo, do nothing, and see the community stagnate, or, we can choose to invest in ourselves, our future, and put into action the right kind of growth we want for our community.

Some might say, who cares? Why do we have to grow? We are unique and we are fine with our small community growing at our own pace.

The problem is that in one generation the costs of municipal services (roads, bridges, social services and programming, emergency services, others) will become unaffordable under the current tax base. That will mean drastic service cuts or dramatic tax increases to maintain the current service levels for our libraries, arenas, roads and bridges, and much more.

By choosing to do nothing, we know that in the short-term very little will change: our school enrollment will continue to dwindle; our taxes will drastically increase year-over-year because our tax base will not grow; and our aging population will continue to shrink with no new families moving to the region.

However, by choosing action we can attract investment, attract families, and create the kind of growth and change that will inspire generations to choose Chatham-Kent.

Why do we need the right long-term growth?

The right growth means that Chatham-Kent is working together towards a common vision of our future. This is a long-term approach designed to help us achieve the vision of CK Plan 2035 and beyond.  There are short-term and medium-term wins that we will also achieve, and by looking at the long-term, we can:

  • Pay for the services and community resources we enjoy
  • Keep our schools, arenas, libraries and other public spaces full
  • Keep and attract families who will be the next generation of Chatham-Kent residents
  • Have a selection of homes available, at all price points, to meet each family’s needs
  • Offer careers that inspire and elevate
  • Have companies that contribute to the community through employment, charitable giving, and being positive corporate citizens
  • Ensure that every community in Chatham-Kent grows and is sustainable
  • Contribute to the environment in a positive way

Why do we need a Community Improvement Plan?

We are in competition with other communities for private sector jobs, investment and residential growth. Providing a 10 year tax rebate is already being done by one of our neighbouring communities. The Community Improvement Plan is an essential tool that will help us be competitive.

We have to be competitive with cities such as Windsor that are offering these types of incentives to attract investment.

This plan is designed to spur private investment in rental housing in order to house current and future residents. We are offering any investor willing to build a large apartment building (50 units or more) tax relief, up to 10 years. We are also willing to offer investors of smaller housing projects some tax relief up to five years. New residents can then move into our community, find jobs and stimulate the local economy. Existing residents will have more housing options, moving into rental properties and making available houses for sale that we so desperately need for young families.

Our plan also provides similar incentives to new and existing businesses for investments in new buildings or renovations where employees work. These investments will bring jobs and new taxes to our community. New jobs provide income for residents who in turn can buy houses and pay property taxes. We need to attract new investment from within and from outside Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent has a Community Improvement Plan. Why do you we need a new one?

Chatham-Kent has an existing Community Improvement Plan designed a number of years ago to meet the realities of a declining population and challenged economy. As time has changed, our population has stabilized and is slowly starting to grow.

Given our new climate, it is prudent and responsible to review and update the plan based on new information. The changes to the Community Improvement Plan address the new needs of our community, which include housing, jobs, and increasing the tax base.

The new Community Improvement Plan (CIP) replaces the existing Downtown, Commercial and Employment CIPs. It brings forward or enhance the most popular programs from the existing CIPs and introduce new incentives focused on encouraging much needed rental housing and affordable housing in the Municipality.

What Community Improvement Plan incentives are available to developers and investors?

The Community Improvement Plan features five incentive opportunities for new development:

  • Property Tax Increment Equivalent
  • Building & Planning Fee Rebate
  • Development Charge Partial Exemption Program              
  • Façade Improvement Program
  • Residential Conversion and Affordable Housing Grant Program

Why is there a focus on rentals and housing?

Both rental and housing stock is at all time lows and demand is record high. There are multiple factors that affect the house market. We are beginning to see a small increase in population which requires new housing, there is an emphasise to age in place so senior can stay longer in their homes. In addition, there are fewer people in each house than 20 years ago. Where as in the past a house may have had two parents and 3-4 children, the average family size is now around 2.5. These changes are not unique to CK but part of a larger national trend.

The result is a lack of housing and a restriction on how many people can move to Chatham-Kent. A focus on housing will allow us to attract developers to build houses at all price points, for all families.

How do we make sure developments are completed as planned and on time?

To help ensure that Chatham-Kent’s short-term to long-term goals are achieved, we are including as a part of the Community Improvement Plan specific criteria to incentivize developers to complete their projects within a reasonable amount of time.

A key element to this is the requirement that developers and investors must contractually agree that their projects will have two years to complete construction, development conditions, and get Final Occupancy from Chatham-Kent Building Services in order to qualify for incentives under the Community Improvement Plan. Should the project take longer than the agreed upon development time, then the developer lose all benefits under the program.

To ensure that this is upheld, developers are required to pay the upfront and incremental tax increase tax amount, as defined by MPAC , upon which they will then receive a refund based on the agreement.

What metrics are we using to track success of Chatham-Kent growth?

There are three measures that will be assessed: population, jobs, and new growth tax assessment.
If we look at the population metric, we have set an aggressive average target growth rate of 1% over the next 10-20 years. The recent Municipal Comprehensive Review states Chatham-Kent is expected to see only 0.1% annual population increase. To be clear, a 1% target is an aggressive stretch target, but like the long-term stock market it is desirable that CK can look back and see an average of 1% per year.

We will also be tracking the uptake and use of the new Community Improvement Plan. This will help us understand what is working, where there are opportunities for improvement, and how we can best adjust to ensure that residents and businesses are successful.

Why is the Community Improvement Plan not offering retroactive incentives?

There are a number of reasons why we are unable to make the Community Improvement Plan (CIP) retroactive. The easiest way to think of the CIP like it is a sale at a store. Right now we have a CIP that is offering a discount on certain types of development. The CIP offers a different type of discount and much like at a store, when one sale ends, the new one begins. We also need to respect that like a store, you can’t combine sales so that you get an even bigger discount.

Our goal is to be fair and reasonable to our owners (the community) and to our customers – the businesses that want to take advantage of the sale. If we were to go back, how far back would we go? Would it be a month? The start of the year? What about when we first started considering updating the CIP?

The reality is that no matter when the start date, someone would always be asking for an exception for their project. This is why, the start date of the CIP will be after it is approved by council, the 20 day waiting period, and it is officially launched. 

Where can I find the Community Improvement Plan?

How can I provide feedback on the Community Improvement Plan?

To provide feedback on the Community Improvement Plan, please contact Karen Loney at karenl@chatham-kent.ca.

Additional information

For additional details regarding planning notices, please visit Chatham-Kent Planning Services. 

Chatham-Kent Planning Services
315 King Street West, Chatham ON N7M 5K8
Phone: 519.360.1998
Fax: 519.436.3237
Email: ckplanning@chatham-kent.ca