The City of Port Alberni Revitalization Tax Bylaw is another step closer to reality.
City councillors voted to amend the bylaw after giving it third reading at their Oct. 28 meeting.
Specifically, the amendments include reducing the footprint of the area impacted by the bylaw by excluding city-owned properties. A second amendment will see the bylaw ensconced within the boundary of Montrose Street to Dunbar Street, and from Fifth Avenue to Harbour Road.
The amendments were consistent with two recommendations made by the civic committee of the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, correspondence noted.
The bylaw encourages property owners to create or improve commercial and multi-family spaces.
Under the plan, a $1 million investment entitles an owner to a 100 per cent municipal tax exemption on improvement costs for a maximum of 10 years.
A $100,000 investment fetches a 100 per cent municipal tax exemption on improvement costs for up to a maximum of five years. But the total exemption cannot exceed 25 per cent of the total project budget.
Best Western Barclay Hotel owner Peter Muggleston spoke against the bylaw.
The bylaw should apply only to new businesses that are needed in the community. It should also fit within a broader growth plan. Site specific zoning should be excluded, as should Harbour Quay and other city-owned properties.
Gayle’s Fashions and Fitness owner Gayle Stephen-Player and Alien Sports owner Gary Robertson spoke in favour of the byalw.
Robertson said he understood the critics’ concerns but that uptown merchants were organized and working hard to improve and area that had become a blight. Robertson suggested adding a component to the bylaw that compelled owners to build residential units to their developments.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Coun. Jack McLeman suggested exempting city-owned properties. “If the city owns it then there will be a perceived conflict,” McLeman said.
Council seems to be pushing the matter through without thinking it through, Coun. Wendy Kerr said. “
“It’s been two years,” Mayor John Douglas said.
“It’s been two years but we have to get it right,” Coun. Cindy Solda replied.
The amended bylaw will be brought back to council’s next meeting in November.