Mayor calls for incentives policy

Mayor Glenn Witherspoon demanded the town figure out a way to give breaks to new businesses after council voted 4-2 on Monday night in favour of denying a request for financial relief for sewer, water, and driveway invoices by North American Lumber.
“I’m against this. There has to be a policy on this. If not, we’re not even in the game to encourage new businesses to open here,” the mayor charged.
“It’s long overdue. We were looking at this a year-and-a-half ago,” the mayor added. “As far as incentives go, we’re back in the Renaissance compared to a lot of other municipalities, if not in Canada, then certainly in the U.S.”
“There’s no argument here,” agreed Coun. Deane Cunningham. “We [the Administration and Finance executive committee] just had to do it on the grounds we don’t have a policy for this sort of thing.”
The recommendation voted on came from the Administration and Finance executive committee. A report from CAO Bill Naturkach read as follows:
“After due consideration, the committee recommends that no relief be provided to North American Lumber on these invoices.
“The charges were in accordance with normal practice and bylaw policy,” it continued. “While certain incentives in prior development have been considered, they have all been prior to development and incurrence of the expenditure.
“To consider assistance after the fact would be a problematic precedent that must be avoided.”
Administration and Finance manager Darryl Allan said the executive committee has been “looking to see what sort of incentives the town can offer businesses which are relocating or expanding within the town limits.”
“Currently, the town can only do so much under the Municipal Act,” Allan noted. “But we’re looking at changes under an overall community improvement plan that may allow for some more flexibility.”
Allan said the executive committee will look at this is the near future, and would provide council with more information at its next meeting.
Couns. Cunningham, Neil Kabel, Sharon Tibbs, and Dave Bourgeault voted in favour of denying the request while Mayor Witherspoon and Coun. Struchan Gilson were against.