Norfolk County Council, on June 9, 2015, approved changes to the Community Improvement Plan incentives for rural and hamlet businesses in Norfolk County. The approval came in the form of an Official Plan Amendment.
Summary of Financial Incentives
1. Architectural and Design Grant
Purpose: Offset the costs associated with preparing the necessary plans and drawings that will outline the extent of the improvements being applied for. Can be used toward the preparation of architectural or engineering plans and site plans for building façade improvements, Building Code or Fire Code retrofits, signage improvements or landscaping and property infrastructure improvements. Grant of 50% to a maximum of $1,500. Grant payable in two equal installments, first upon approval of the design drawings and second upon completion of the works. Grant available to a property owner or tenant.
2. Planning Application Fee & Building Permit Fee Grant
Purpose: Offset the amount of the applicable planning and building permit fees. The grant would apply to site plan approval fees, application amendment fees (variance or zoning amendment), and building permit fees. Available to a property owner or tenant. Grant of 50% of eligible planning and building permit fees, to a maximum of $3,000 in building permit application fees; and maximum of $1,000 in planning application fees. Grant payable in two equal installments, first upon approval of the planning application or issuance of the building permit; second upon completion of the final inspection by the Building Division for any works covered by the building permit fee.
3. Environmental Site Assessment Grant
Purpose: Offset the cost of conducting Phase II and III Environmental Site Assessments. Available to a property owner. Grant of 50% to a maximum of $15,000. Grant payable at the completion and approval of the study.
4. Building Façade Improvement Program
Purpose: Provide assistance toward improving and updating building façades to renew the façades and improve the attractiveness of the building. This will be a combination loan and forgivable loan (grant) program. Loan will be 50% of eligible improvements, to a maximum of $15,000. Loan advanced in two stages: 50% at issuance of building permit; and 50% upon completion of the works. This will include a forgivable portion (grant) of 50%. Loan to be for a five year term, payable monthly. Grant portion to be provided upon full payment of the repayable portion of the loan. Available to a property owner or tenant.
5. Agricultural Buildings & Facilities Improvement Program
Purpose: Provide assistance toward the conversion and re-use of existing agricultural buildings for new value added agricultural activities. Loan will be 50% of eligible improvements / works to a maximum of $20,000. This will include a forgivable portion (grant) of 50% . Would apply to projects that comply with the policy direction in the official plan. Available to a property owner or tenant.
6. Structural Improvement Grant
Purpose: Upgrade the physical conditions of the interiors or buildings for existing commercial operations to improve their safety and efficiency, accessibility and meet current building code and fire code standards. This program would not be available for participants in the Agricultural Buildings and Facilities Improvement Loan and Grant. Available to a property owner or tenant. Grant of 50% to a maximum of $5,000. Grant payable at the completion of the project and final inspection by the County.
7. Residential Conversion / Rehabilitation Grant
Purpose: Conversion of unused or underused upper floor or rear space to new residential or commercial use. Encourage the renovation of the space to be usable for new residential or commercial activities. Available to a property owner. Grant of 50% to a maximum of $4,000 per unit, to a maximum of $8,000. Grant payable at the completion of the works and final inspection by the County.
8. Landscaping, Signage & Property Improvement Grant
Purpose: Upgrading the open areas associated with the property, including parking areas, boulevards and other landscaping features. Grant will be for improving the landscape between parking areas and the roadway, or between parking areas and the building; driveway entrance and walkway improvements; storm drainage and provision of parking areas. Available to the property owner. Grant of 50% to a maximum of $2,000. Grant payable at the completion of the works and final inspection by the County.
9. Property Tax Increment Grant
Purpose: Pay a portion of the local taxes (excluding education taxes) attributable to the increased assessment over a five year period, for eligible projects. The effect of the grant would be to phase in any tax increase relating to a revised property assessment resulting from the property improvements. Eligible for agricultural value added projects. Available where the County share of the increased taxes is $200.00 or more a year. Based on increase in assessment resulting from the approved improvements. Available to a property owner. Grant would be transferable in the event of an ownership change. Grant will be over a five year period, with 100% of the value of the increase in year one, decreasing to 20% in year five.
A Community Improvement Plan (CIP) is a municipal tool that allows a municipality to direct funds and implement policy initiatives toward a specifically defined project area.
In 2007, Norfolk County established its current CIP – Includes programs that encourage the maintenance, rehabilitation and redevelopment of the county.
- Limited in scope to three program areas
- Facade improvement (downtown areas), Environmental Assessment Grant Program, Rehabilitation Tax Incentives (downtown/brownfields)
In 2015, Norfolk County decided to update and create new CIP policies, particularly focused on the growth of tourism, agri-tourism/ agricultural, and downtown and hamlet revitalization.
Benefits of a CIP
- Rehabilitate and revitalize targeted areas
- Support local businesses
- Improve quality of life opportunities
- Grow the economy
- Public infrastructure (e.g. streetscape improvements; property acquisition; public facilities)
- Private sector incentives (e.g. grants and loans for specific improvements, originally facades and visual improvements)
- Grants and/or loans (percentage of project)