April 18, 2005

Kingston plan will be among first to use brownfields tax incentive program

A Community Improvement Plan (CIP) for the city of Kingston, Ontario will be among the first in Ontario to use the provincial government's new brownfields financial tax incentive program to provide financial assistance to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites. Kingston's CIP, recently approved by the government, includes significant emphasis on cleaning up brownfield sites such as the Davis Tannery and Block D sites.

The Davis Tannery has been closed since the late 1960s and the 15-hectare property sits vacant on the Kingston waterfront. Block D was a former industrial site currently being used as a parking area.

The brownfields tax incentive program, which came into effect last October, allows municipalities to cancel or reduce municipal property taxes on eligible brownfield properties. It also allows the Ministry of Finance to match the municipal tax treatment in the education portion of the property tax.

For Ontario municipalities, these provincial incentives will help ease the path for redevelopment, especially in areas where lands have been left vacant, and help increase tax assessment to municipalities. They will also ease development pressures on greenspaces and countryside lands, by facilitating the re-use of former dormant lands and revitalizing existing neighbourhoods.

The CIP is not a new concept. What is new is its use as a tool to access tax assistance for brownfield redevelopment. A CIP enables municipalities to: target areas in transition; facilitate and encourage community change in a co-ordinated manner; focus the public on municipal priorities and initiatives; create partnerships with the private sector and community groups; and stimulate community improvement activities.

Community improvement provisions under Section 28 of the Planning Act set out a beneficial and comprehensive planning framework for brownfield rehabilitation decisions and actions. This framework addresses property rehabilitation, brownfields cleanup and redevelopment programs; includes provisions for public consultation; and permits planning and financial assistance programs involving lands, buildings, loans, grants and tax assistance which may involve the approval of the ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing or Finance.

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