A new initiative aims to bring back the benefits of the Revitalization Tax Exemption for business owners in Esquimalt.
The Business Facade Improvement Program, put forward and unanimously approved by the Esquimalt council Dec.5, aims to fill the gaps left behind by the 2015 Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw.
The bylaw, which was repealed, was a part of the 2014 Economic Development Strategy that outlined what was needed to increase economic growth in Esquimalt.
This identified many different strategies, but the one this new program aims to emulate is the reduction of costs for improvement on behalf of business owners.
The goal of the previous tax exemption bylaw was to provide tax relief for new construction as well as exterior improvements of businesses that cost at least $10,000.
“As a council, we are committed to supporting revitalization and beautification initiatives along Esquimalt Road,” said Mayor Barbara Desjardins in a statement. “While we saw some uptake in the Revitalization Tax Exemption program, it was overall not as successful as we had hoped. We used feedback from that process to design an improved initiative that will be more accessible and flexible to businesses.”
The program includes grant money for labour and materials that would improve building facades on main roads, corner buildings and intersecting streets.
It also provides a list of improvements that would be eligible for grant money, including lighting, awnings, signage, windows and exterior surfaces.
The program will be administered by the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the township and will be responsible for application approval and payment disbursement.
The full program is set to begin in early 2023 and there will be an official launch when applications can be submitted.
“The program was approved in principle but we are still developing the administrative side to the initiative,” said Tara Zajac, the manager of communications for Esquimalt. “We’ll create a public launch when we are ready to receive applicants.”