A downtown revitalization bylaw (No. 1837) was passed with Councillor Frank Wray opposed at a town council meeting July 10.
The bylaw allows tax exemptions to downtown buildings that construct residential dwelling units for a five-year period. The exemption would be 50 percent for one dwelling unit per parcel area greater than 290 metres squared, 75 percent for one dwelling unit per parcel area between 290 m2 and 135 m2, and 100 percent for one dwelling per parcel area less than 135 m2.
Some downtown buildings will already qualify for the new exemption, such as the new Home Hardware building at the corner of Third Avenue and King Street, which will have a one-bedroom apartment on its second storey.
The bylaw states that the objective of the council is, “to add efficient growth to the Smithers tax base, to diversify options for housing stock, to contribute to the success and vibrancy of the downtown core, and to reduce GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions by encouraging a more walkable community with a less energy-intensive lifestyle.”
“Thanks to [director of finance Leslie Ford] and all the staff who worked on this bylaw, I know it took a bunch of work … I think it’s something we haven’t done before,” said Mayor Taylor Bachrach.
“It’s creating some new ground, and it’s probably unique in the province in terms of trying to incentivize residential development.”