Let’s Talk About the Community Improvement Plan (aka CIP)

CIP discussion at council

Let’s Talk About the Community Improvement Plan (aka CIP)

At our council meeting on July 18th, we approved a Brownfield Tax Increment Finance (BTIF) under the Community Improvement Plan for the development at 7 St. Paul St. West and 7 McGuire St.  For those who didn’t watch you can watch the delegates and discussion on the City’s YouTube channel.

I voted in favour of the Brownfield Tax Increment Finance.  There are some in our community and ward who will very strongly disagree with me and that’s okay.

Those who disagree will talk about giving money to “rich” developers, that we should only approve these types of benefits if affordable housing is included and that we don’t need these kinds of large developments in our city.

For those who disagree, I wanted to explain why I voted to support this project.

A bit of history.  The CIP program was updated and approved by council in 2020.  The community was fully engaged in the process – community meetings, public meetings and surveys online.  Included in the approval by council was a weighted scoring system out of 100 that each application is be measured against.  The weighed scoring system was also broken into two categories Downtown and Outside of Downtown.  The weighted scoring system identifies very specific elements or criteria that each application will be scored on.

The scoring for a development in Downtown breaksdown like this:

  • Remediation – max 13 points
  • Core Housing – max 11 points
  • Heritage Restoration/Conservation – max 10 points
  • Mixed Use Component – max 10 points
  • Density Generation (measured in people and jobs) – max 18 points
  • Investment (project costs in $ millions) – max 8 points
  • Estimated % increase in Annual Property Taxes – max 16 points
  • Value Added (sustainable design & public area/streetscape contribution) – max 14 points

The project does not involve any heritage restoration/conservation, let’s take off those eligiable 10 points. So now were looking at a score out of 90.   Here’s how this development scored:

  • Remediation – 4/13
  • Core Housing – 0/10
  • Mixed Use Component – 10/10
  • Density Generation (measured in people and jobs) – 18/18
  • Investment (project costs in $ millions) – 8/8
  • Estimated % increase in Annual Property Taxes – 16/16
  • Value Added (sustainable design & public area/streetscape contribution) – 11/14

67/90 or 74% – well above the required 50%.

Now these are a lot of numbers and some may choose to argue about the entire system but the reality is that we, as a city, we have established these programs like pretty much every other city in Ontario.  When a developer chooses our city for their project, they look at the scoring and have a very reasonable expectation that if they acheive a score of a 51/100, their project will be considered.  And they have every expectation that the higher the score the more likely their application will be approved.

My decision to support the Brownfield Tax Increment Finance (BTIF) goes beyond just the score.  For me it is about people. It’s about business owners. It’s about seeing and knowing what this project will do for our downtown and our city.  Please watch my comments at council for why I support this project.