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Pemberton mayor contemplates tax holidays

Bringing new commercial activity to downtown core the intent



The Mayor of Pemberton is considering tax incentives and holidays for some areas of the village in order to stimulate investment in town.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy put a notice of motion on the agenda for Pemberton's March 16 council meeting asking staff to investigate the "viability of establishing tax incentives/holidays for certain areas of the Village." The motion passed unanimously after some discussion.

The City of Kamloops and its Revitalization Tax Exemption program, a bylaw that encourages development in the city centre, inspired Sturdy's motion. That program makes property owners in some areas eligible for five-year tax holidays that include additional four-year phase-in periods so that by the 10 th year they're paying full taxes.

The aim of that program is to encourage more residential development and the revitalization of aging commercial buildings. Sturdy feels a similar program could work in Pemberton and has thus directed village staff to investigate it.

"I was thinking the C1 area of the downtown core and perhaps the industrial park and airport are two areas we could consider," he said. "I was thinking of focusing on commercial activity. In Kamloops, the tax exemption program is available to companies that own properties in the city.

"It's something I'd like us to understand better, what the implications are, wonder whether it's worthwhile for us to consider."

Councillor Susie Gimse asked whether Sturdy had spoken to the mayor of Kamloops. He hadn't, but he said there's been some "significant investments" in the Interior city. He doesn't know whether that has to do with the climate there but he'd like to know what opportunities there may be for the Village of Pemberton.

Councillor Lisa Ames suggested that Pemberton look at the City of Langford, just outside Victoria. She said that community has seen some "innovative approaches" to business.

Businesses that have started in Langford in the past few years include Bear Mountain, a golf resort that has been credited with bringing a "renaissance" to the Vancouver Island city.

Roger Lundie, the interim manager of finance at the Village of Pemberton, said staff were already reaching out to other communities and getting information about economic revitalization.

Other items at the council meeting included a report from Mayor Sturdy about his attendance at meetings of the Local Government Elections Task Force in Vancouver last week, a body that aims to make recommendations for legislative changes to improve the electoral process throughout British Columbia.

Sturdy said the three-year election cycle came up for debate and it was suggested that it be changed to four years.

Gimse, a career politician, said the three-year election cycle has been a controversial item at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). The debate, she said, has revolved around whether it might be difficult to attract candidates if the province moved to a four-year cycle.

"In some areas it's very difficult to get community members to step up and run for elected office because of the time commitment that's involved," she said. "So by extending it an extra year, you make it harder for individuals to sign up to run for office."

The Village of Pemberton also hopes to make a big push for success at this year's Earth Hour, an annual event that asks people all over the world to switch off their lights for a single hour.

Pemberton was Sea to Sky's Earth Hour champion last year, recording a 4.6 per cent drop in consumption, putting it above 24 other communities.

Whistler, by comparison, saw its consumption go up by 1.1 per cent. Squamish reduced its consumption by 3.6 per cent.

Earth Hour is from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27.



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