A LOCAL bakery is the latest business to take advantage of a city plan providing tax relief in return for making improvements downtown.
Baker Extraordinaire owners Charles and Ann Claus spent about $70,000 renovating a former Park Ave. home and are now set to receive $1,200 yearly in city tax rebates.
“When you put that much money into a project and you’re a small business, it costs a lot to do it right,” said Charles Claus. “[The incentive] was not the deciding factor but it is helpful.”
After extensive renovations, including electrical and plumbing work, providing wheelchair access and adding timber accents, Baker Extraordinaire applied to the city for a tax incentive which cost them $500. City council approved the application Oct. 10, and Baker Extraordinaire is set to save on taxes for the next five years.
“The intent of the whole bylaw is investment into the downtown core,” said finance director Ron Bowles.
He explained that the city wanted to help businesses make improvements, noting that the resulting increase in property values means the city will recoup any incentives in the long run.
Before renovations start, the value of a building is assessed. Then, post renovations, it is assessed again.
The tax incentive part exists because the owners of the building will pay property taxes based on the building’s prior value.
To date, five businesses have been approved to receive downtown improvement tax incentives.
Carters Jewellers, Horizon Dental, Fabricland and Casa Masala have also qualified for incentives based on new work or renovations.
Those who can apply are those who spend $50,000 or more to improve a building in the commercial district downtown, a section stretching from Eby St. to Apsley St. and from Davis Ave. through Birch Ave. to Greig Ave.
Together their improvement spending has totaled $2.8 million, resulting in increased assessments of $1.3 million.
This translates to $33,000 yearly in tax incentives from the city, totalling $165,000 over the course of five years.