Making development less taxing

Whitehorse is considering tax incentives to spur development in the city. At Monday's council meeting, city planners presented a plan, which includes a five-year $10,000 tax grant for people building garden or living suites.

Whitehorse is considering tax incentives to spur development in the city.

At Monday’s council meeting, city planners presented a plan, which includes a five-year $10,000 tax grant for people building garden or living suites.

But it’s not enough of an incentive for some people to start building.

“The tax break is not enough” said Remax realtor Terrance Tait. “If you go to the city and find out what the requirements are to get a legal suite in your house it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

For Tait, the cost to turn his basement suite into a rental unit was prohibitive.

“You need to put in an HRV system which is $7,000, and that’s before any of the other things,” he said. “I’m not going to spend $10,000 to legalize my suite just to rent it out.”

New multifamily or mixed-use commercial downtown developments will be eligible for a 10-year $50,000 grant.

And any developer building on an abandoned downtown lot, or doing major renovations to a derelict building will be able to recoup $500,000 in property taxes over10 years. To qualify, a developer would have to spend at least $1,000,000 on construction costs.

“Incentives have been suggested by the public and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce to spur on private development,” said city planning and development manager Mike Gau.

All of this is an effort to “help relieve the housing crunch,” he said.

The city decided to go with these tax incentives to avoid any loss in revenue, he said.

There had been suggestions the city should waive tipping fees at the dump, or lower permit fees, but doing that would cut into the budget, he said.

“It can get very complicated,” said Gau. “Some of the things that have been suggested would result in a decrease in revenue and there would be an impact.”

The tax grants only apply to new developments, while taxes are still collected on land.

“We’re not collecting these taxes now and, in fact, this should spur economic development to increase taxes once the incentive period expires,” said Gau. “We’ve looked at the tax-incentive route to provide the incentive desired without impacting the taxpayers.”

City planners hope these incentives will spur some private development.

“Ten thousand dollars to assist in the development of a living suite, for example, may make the difference for a homeowner to add that unit,” he said.

While the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the new incentives, it’s skeptical how much of an impact they will have.

“It’s a good first step but it doesn’t go far enough,” said chamber president Rick Karp. “More needs to be done to get the rental market back into the position that it should be.”

The formula for tax incentives should be expanded to include waivers or more downtown development, he said

“We need to go further, and we need to do it quickly,” said Karp.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read