Downtown Revitalization

Click here to download Vitalization Program brochure

Or click here to learn more about the available Residential Tax Exemption

and to download consolidated Downtown Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw

Comox Downtown Vitalization was specified as one of the priorities in the 2012-2014 Strategic Plan. A range of incentive tools were chosen, and in June 2014 Council adopted several bylaws, including Downtown Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 1784, to encourage Downtown Vitalization.

Increasing residential density in the Downtown was identified as a key element of the Downtown Vitalization Program. The incentives encourage mixed-use commercial and residential development, to support and increase not only Downtown businesses, but also the area’s social and environmental vitality.

The Downtown Vitalization Area is shown shaded on the map below.

Downtown revitalization map

DOWNTOWN VITALIZATION PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Available incentives:
• Priority processing
• Revitalization Tax Exemption for residential component of the development
• Building Permit fee reduction
• Development Permit fee rebate
• Optimized parking requirements and design standards
• No affordable housing contribution for residential projects featuring at least 50% of adaptable units
• Sound attenuation guidelines provided by the Town

The objectives of the Downtown Vitalization Program are to increase the Town’s economic, social and environmental vitality by:
• retaining and supporting existing businesses
• attracting new community investments in the form of multi-family residential development
• concentrating residential development within established areas with full municipal services, and
• encouraging high quality residential development, suitable for citizens aging in place

The Revitalization Tax Exemption is a key component of the Downtown Vitalization Program; the amount of the tax exemption varies according to the ability of a development to meet economic, social and environmental targets. Developments achieving Built Green Silver equivalent and Adaptable Housing standards will receive higher and longer-term exemptions in comparison with other developments, as outlined further. Similarly, as the residential component of the development increases, so does the tax exemption, i.e. 4 storey buildings will receive greater and longer-term exemption, than 3 storey buildings.

The Downtown Vitalization Program does not rezone land and does not amend the Official Community Plan Bylaw, 2011. Rezoning, public notification and public hearing will be required for developments over 3 stories.

TAX EXEMPTION IS AVAILABLE ONLY FOR RESIDENTIAL PART OF DEVELOPMENT

• For projects that are 3 storeys in height that meet the Tax Exemption Bylaw criteria, but do not meet Built Green BC Silver Equivalency: exemption equal to the amount of 50% of the Assessed Value of the residential improvements on the parcel. This Tax Exemption is for a maximum term of 3 years
• For projects that are 3 storeys in height that meet the Tax Exemption Bylaw criteria, and meet Built Green BC Silver Equivalency: exemption equal to the amount of 50% of the Assessed Value of the residential improvements on the parcel. This Tax Exemption is for a maximum term of 6 years
• For projects that are 4 storeys in height or more that meet the Tax Exemption Bylaw criteria, but do not meet Built Green BC Silver Equivalency: exemption equal to the amount of 100% of the Assessed Value of the residential improvements on the parcel. This Tax Exemption is for a maximum term of 5 years
• For projects that are 4 storeys in height or more that meet the Tax Exemption Bylaw criteria, and meet Built Green BC Silver Equivalency: exemption equal to the amount of 100% of the Assessed Value of the residential improvements on the parcel. This Tax Exemption is for a maximum term of 8 years

THE TAX EXEMPTION DOES NOT APPLY TO:

• municipal taxes imposed on the assessed value of land or commercial improvements
• taxes, or charges levied for local area services, specified areas, local improvement districts, or business improvement areas
• municipal fees; or
• taxes imposed by a regional district, board of school trustees or other authority

TAX EXEMPTION ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

In order to qualify for the Tax Exemption, a development has to:
• Be located within the Downtown Vitalization Program Area (as shown on the map above)
• Clearly meet or exceed all applicable development regulations, including Town building design standards , and program criteria
• Be a new construction
• Minimum building height is 3 storeys
• Minimum building coverage is 60%
• Minimum 50% of the total proposed floor area is residential use
• Minimum 50% of residential units are adaptable (to qualify for tax exemption component of the program and to defer affordable housing contribution)
• Provide additional road dedication where required, and
• Provide adequate sound attenuation

Click here to learn more about the available Residential Tax Exemption

FINANCIAL COSTS OF THE DOWNTOWN VITALIZATION PROGRAM

The following aspects of the Downtown Vitalization Program are designed to reduce the financial exposure of the Town:
• $50,000 budget for combined Building Permit and Development application fee reduction;
• $50,000 budget for residential component tax reduction in comparison to predevelopment tax revenue
• Limited time offer and first come-first served approach
• Limitation of the tax exemption to the residential component of the development excluding land: i.e. taxes will be payable on the land value and commercial building component of the property
• Requirement to clearly meet or exceed all applicable regulations and the Vitalization Program requirements reduces application processing costs and time

DOWNTOWN VITALIZATION PROGRAM TIMELINE

• Program start: July 2014 (accepting applications until July 1, 2017)
• Review and re-evaluation 6 months into the Program, including possibility to extend the Program
• Submission of complete development application on or before the 1 year anniversary of the Program start
• Commencement of the construction within 1 year of the development permit issuance

• To qualify for the tax exemption, occupancy permit and exemption certificate before October 31, 2021