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If a Town wants to provide incentives for building owners to improve their properties, the Province mandates that it have a Community Improvement Plan (C.I.P.) for the area in question.  Cobourg has developed such a plan for Downtown and as required by the Province, it will be presented at a Public Meeting on Monday, March 14, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  The plan was produced in conjunction with the Downtown Master plan but should really be thought of as part of the Vitalization project  - a parallel tool to the CIVI.   When the program was initiated in May 2015, CAO Stephen Peacock described a C.I.P.: "This work will allow for a number of financial incentives to be defined and come into play that would not be otherwise available in the downtown area."

The regular Committee of the Whole Council meeting is scheduled immediately after the C.I.P. meeting and approval in principle (or not) of the C.I.P. is on the agenda.

The C.I.P. document (link below) includes a lot of rationale and background information but in the end, what matters is what incentives would be put in place.   The report includes a list of 8 recommended grants AND/OR loans as follows:

Recommended Incentives

The Incentives recommended to be put in place per the Consultant’s report are summarized below:

1. Study Grant Program Grant
Equal to 50% of the cost for an urban design study, professional architectural/design drawing(s), heritage impact assessment, and/or eligible feasibility study to a maximum grant of $2,500 per property/project.

2. Façade Improvement Grant/Loan Program
Grant equal to 50% of the cost of eligible front facade and storefront improvement/ restoration works to a maximum grant per property/project of $12,500.

3. Building Improvement Grant/ Loan Program
Grant equal to 50% of the cost of eligible building improvement works to commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings to a maximum grant per property/project of $12,500
AND/OR Loan equal to 70% of the cost of eligible building improvement works to commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings to a maximum loan per property/project of $25,000. Minimum loan of $5,000.

4. Residential Grant / Loan Program
Grant equal to $15 per sq.ft. of residential space rehabilitated or created to a maximum grant of $15,000 per unit and a maximum of 4 units per property/project (maximum grant per property/ project is $60,000);
AND/OR Loan equal to $20 per sq.ft. of residential space rehabilitated or created to a maximum loan of $20,000 per unit and a maximum of 4 units per property/project (maximum loan per property/ project is $80,000)

 5. Vitalization Tax Increment Grant Program
Annual grant between 50% and 100% of the increase in municipal property taxes for up to 10 years after project completion. The project must result in a significant increase in assessment and property taxes.

6. Brownfields Tax Assistance Program
Cancellation of part or all of the municipal property taxes and education property taxes for up to 3 years.

7. Vitalization Development Charge Grant Program
Grant equal to between 50% and 100% of the Town Development Charges normally payable for "catalytic projects". The project must result in a significant increase in assessment and property taxes.

8. Fees Grant Program
Grant equal to 100% of the fees paid on planning and development applications, building permits, heritage permits for the renovation, restoration, rehabilitation and/or redevelopment of existing buildings, and sign permits. For new development, intensification, and additions, there is a maximum total grant of $5,000 per property/project.

If approved in principle, there will be further work required to setup the recommended grants/loans.

Download the Consultant’s full report on the C.I.P. here.

The plan was first mentioned in Council in May, 2015 – Cobourg Internet Report here.

One difference between the CIVIC and the C.I.P. is that the C.I.P. is managed by Council and Town Staff and is not arm’s length.  There is also no upfront commitment of large amounts of money.

It looks like Monday’s COW Meeting will be asked to approve several major plans - the following are on the Agenda March 14.