The Town of Battleford is launching an incentive program for its downtown core.
Council gave its approval to the incentives at their meeting Monday. Mayor Ames Leslie told reporters this is the first time a dedicated incentive program has been initiated for the downtown.
The incentives would run for most of 22nd Street and portions of some adjoining streets. Three categories of incentives are proposed.
One category is for building upgrades and renovations, which would include facade improvements, signage, landscaping, building maintenance, alteration, other improvements and additions. A second is a vacant building incentive, to assist with upgrades to vacant properties.
Incentives for the first two categories are a one-year abatement of 100 per cent of the municipal portion of property tax for projects between $50,000 and $100,000. Improvements between $100,000 to $150,000 would qualify for two years, and those over $150,000, for three years.
The original recommendation from administration was a 50 per cent abatement for the one-year abatement. After discussion from council it was decided to make it 100 per cent for all three incentives.
A third category covers vacant lots. Right now, an existing commercial industrial building program applies only to new buildings through municipal tax abatements for two years. Under this new incentive, it is extended to three years for businesses located on 22nd Street.
The new incentives are subject to conditions. Applicants must obtain a building permit, must begin construction within six months and the building must be occupied by an operating business for the duration of the abatement or the exemption must be repaid.
These incentives are being applied in conjunction with other revitalization initiatives in Battleford including ongoing beautification efforts.
The hope, said Mayor Leslie to reporters, is to encourage business owners downtown to improve the look of their buildings. The town is also looking to stay competitive in attracting businesses to downtown.
“This is just one more tool in the box to try and make sure we’re competitive in the marketplace,” said Leslie.
Details about the incentive program, as well as the map showing the incentive area, are to be posted on the town’s website.