The future of St. Catharines’ Community Improvement Plan

Sept. 16, 2019 – The City of St. Catharines is calling on the community to provide feedback on the future of its Community Improvement Plan (CIP).

Earlier this year a pause was placed on the City’s CIP in order to undergo a full review of its focus, alignment with strategic plan objectives, long-term sustainability and to maximize value. The review will officially kick off with a public information session on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. at St. Catharines City Hall, in the Council Chambers (third floor).

“The City’s Community Improvement Plan program has been successful in supporting community renewal, but renewal objectives and strategies have evolved and administration and implementation of CIP approvals has been challenging,” said Bruce Bellows, senior planner. “Gathering input from those who are applying for and utilizing the programs is a critical part of this process as we undergo this review.”

The CIP program has had a significant impact on supporting renewal across the City. The most recent plan, approved in 2015, offered five financial incentive programs to the private sector to stimulate new investment. The financial incentive programs are intended to offset a portion of costs incurred by property owners for redevelopment projects, brownfield remediation projects, facade improvement projects, and residential/office conversion projects, resulting in beneficial increases to the property tax assessment base.

Since 2004, the City has approved 93 community renewal projects under the CIP. Once all projects are completed, those approvals will have helped stimulate construction of 1,600 new residential dwelling units, 225 permanent new jobs and an estimated increase in the municipal tax base of about $311 million.

As the City has evolved, however, the community renewal objectives and strategies are changing, such as greater emphasis placed on affordable housing, commercial redevelopment and aging plazas, heritage preservation and restoration, in addition to remediation of brownfield sites.

“We’re looking forward to hearing from the development industry, stakeholders and general public at the meeting,” said Bellows. “We want them to share their feedback and their future visions for the CIP so we can ensure the overall intent of the CIP is maintained, but it has regard for the change happening in St. Catharines.”

Applications that have already been previously approved under the City’s CIP program will not be impacted by this review, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020.