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Lake Country builds strategy to attract purpose-built rentals

Incentives include 10-year exemption for municipal portion of property taxes
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Lake Country Council wants more purpose-built rental housing constructed in the community. (Black Press file photo)

Lake Country council wants more purpose-built rental housing options available in the community.

An incentive bylaw proposes tax breaks for developers who build units in the Town Centre and Woodsdale areas.

It outlines a streamlined approval process and a 10-year exemption on the municipal portion of property taxes for new buildings or additions to existing structures.

Lake Country faces a shortage of such rentals, with only 71 units available and none built since 2016. CAO Paul Gipps noted that the lack of options makes it challenging to attract and retain a workforce.

“Purpose-built rentals are designed for those earning $50,000 (or more) a year,” Gipps told council at its May 21 meeting. “Those are a lot of the people we have in our community.”

Gipps said the district would require a minimum of 10 units per development in the Town Centre and 15 units in Woodsdale.

Councillor Todd McKenzie pointed out the district’s housing needs study screams the need for purpose-built rentals.

“This is something we’ve tried for a long time,” he said. “We keep getting shot down by upper governments’ lack of ability to produce the final okay for us.”

Mayor Blair Ireland highlighted new provincial legislation that sets out housing targets.

“There is no way in the world will achieve those housing targets unless we do this,” he added.

Coun. Heather Irvine expressed concern about the fairness of offering a 10-year tax break, questioning the impact on taxpayers.

“I see the need,” she added. ”But I don’t think it’s fair to taxpayers.”

Ireland countered that the district would still get revenue from development cost charges and building permits.

Coun. Michael Lewis noted the challenging economic climate for developers, citing high construction costs and rising interest rates.

“People are not going to come and do this without some kind of incentive,” he added. “We’re not giving that much and I hope it does the trick.”

Council gave three readings to the incentive bylaw with Irvine opposed.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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