City keen on seeing empty lots filled

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Coun. Ted Zurakowski passed a motion on Monday that will see city administration create an incentive policy for utilizing infill lands within the city. 

By next year, the city’s elected officials hope to set a plan into motion that will help develop empty lots throughout the city.

 

By next year, the city’s elected officials hope to set a plan into motion that will help develop empty lots throughout the city.

“We’ve had lots of infill lots that have sat empty for 10 years, so … let’s get them filled,” Mayor Greg Dionne said after Monday’s city council meeting.

“At the end of the day, what’s an infill lot? Weeds. Garbage. Decay. Untidiness. They’re just not nice.

“You have all these nice houses, and then you come along and ugh -- there’s a weed patch.”

Spurred by council’s approval earlier this month of a tax break for a 94-unit seniors condominium-style project on Guy Drive, Coun. Ted Zurakowski asked, what about infill lots?

At Monday’s meeting, Zurakowski’s motion to have administration develop a tax incentive policy for infill lots passed unanimously.

“I really don’t think we should neglect our infill lots throughout our city, whether they be commercial or residential lots,” Zurakowski said after Monday’s meeting.

Whereas new developments such as the Guy Drive project stretch the city’s boundaries to the southeast, requiring new underground infrastructure, infill lots are already serviced.

The development of infill lots is a win-win to all involved, Zurakowski concluded.

“It would add not only to the tax base but to the remainder of the neighbourhood,” he said.

City director of planning and development Rick Stuckenberg said that city administration is dedicated to bringing a tax incentive policy to council in advance of this winter’s 2015 budget deliberations.

At the end of the day, what’s an infill lot? Weeds. Garbage. Decay. Untidiness. They’re just not nice. Mayor Greg Dionne

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said, noting that one of the first steps will be gathering a database of where all the vacant lots currently are and what each lot’s potential might be.

“It’s been an interesting assignment to help guide council on how to grow the city sustainable and help promote infill development,” he said.

“Infill development is important for enhancing the viability and the character of existing neighbourhoods.

“New investment in old neighbourhoods help promote the neighbourhood as a place for people to live and work and also to use existing parks, schools and walkways.”

Zurakowski concluded that tax incentives are “one thing we can do proactive to fill up those infill lots,” and that a tax incentive policy has been a long time coming.

“It’s coming forward now, I think, because we’ve seen with our new city manager (Jim Toye) we have a person in place who can think outside the box a bit. He’s proactive and I think the willingness is there, so I’m excited.”

The tax incentive granted to the Caleb Group’s 94-unit seniors’ assisted living condominium-style project will see taxes eased in over five years.

The Caleb Group will not pay any property taxes during their first two years, including construction time. The city will cover 75 per cent during year three, 50 per cent during year four and 25 per cent during year five. 

Organizations: Caleb Group

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