Community improvement plan garners positive response

Jessie Zhang, economic development Intern with the local Rainy River Future Development Corp., presented a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to residents in Emo last Tuesday night, which received a positive response.
“Some people had questions,” Zhang noted Thursday, saying she will revise the CIP and send it to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for approval.
“Once it is approved, it will be in effect.”
Under Ontario’s Planning Act, Zhang said a CIP will allow municipalities to address any unsatisfactory state of affairs in an area.
“Right now, the municipality is not allowed to give bonusing to property owner,” she explained. “They can’t give any financial incentive. But with this plan, the municipality, for example, will be able to sell or lease at a lower market value.”
Since every community is unique, there is no predetermined definition of what a community improvement plan must include.
“There are different programs,” Zhang said, noting Emo’s proposed CIP includes 13 programs, such as a land availability program, a building permit fee program, and flexible zoning requirement program.
She noted there are two types of programs—financial and non-financial.
Changes to land-use and zoning regulations, which allow desired activities to be encouraged and undesirable ones to be limited, are non-financial. The programs that offer grants or loans to owners as an incentive to build or repair properties to meet aims stated in the plan are financial.
She also indicated some programs would allow the granting back of fees, if the municipality feels the applicant meets the criteria.
Zhang noted in her presentation that a CIP will encourage population growth and stimulate land development.
“With land-use and development, the CIPs are more for economic development,” she remarked.
The plan will allow the municipality to:
•Construct, repair, rehabilitate, or improve buildings;
•Sell, lease, or dispose of buildings and land;
•Provide grants or loans regarding lands and buildings to owners, tenants, and assignees; and
•Provide tax assistance.
“It may not be used for five or 10 years, but when it is needed, they will be able to provide the incentive,” said Zhang.
In her presentation last Tuesday night, Zhang also listed some goals the CIP might help achieve:
•To develop as a service centre for agriculture, forestry, and tourism industries;
•To encourage small-scale, value-added industries associated with agriculture, forestry, and mining;
•To encourage tourism growth related to diversified forms of tourism activities; and
•To improve access to telecommunication technology.
Zhang said one of the questions asked was where the money will come from.
“It does not come from the municipality,” she stressed. “And it won’t add financial burden to the town or tax payer.”
She explained a three-year tax relief program is most common, with 100 percent given back the first year and up to 50 percent returned the third year.
If the new development doesn’t generate any payable taxes, it won’t have anything to give back, Zhang said.
Zhang began discussions with the municipalities of Emo, Chapple, La Vallee, and Rainy River back in October regarding Community Improvement Plans.
A public consultation of the plan is required before approval.
With Chapple and Emo’s public meetings now complete, Zhang will conduct the CIP presentations for La Vallee and Rainy River in May.