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Fort Macleod council awards first tax incentive

Triple B Car Wash Ltd. filed the first successful application for the Town of Fort Macleod’s new tax incentive, which is intended to prompt growth and development.

Fort Macleod council last week approved the first tax incentive application.

Council voted followed administration’s recommendation to approve the application from Triple B Car Wash Ltd.

The decision followed considerable discussion at the Oct. 13 meeting at the G,R. Davis Administration Building.

The discussion centered on the timing of the application for the tax incentive program that went into effect July 13.

By-law No. 1912 is intended to encourage development and growth in Fort Macleod’s business community.

Successful applicants will receive a 100 per cent tax exemption on the incremental increase to the assessed value in the first year of the agreement.

A 75 per cent exemption is granted in the second year of the agreement, with a further 50 per cent exemption in the third and final year.

The question was raised during council’s meeting whether the Triple B development met that test.

Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan told council a development permit was issued for the car wash on March 31.

That was 3 1/2 months before the tax incentive by-law was finalized.

That prompted Coun. David Orr to question whether it was appropriate to offer an incentive to a business that already had a development permit.

“It’s pretty hard to say that this by-law incentivized them to build in our community when they have already acquired a building permit and are committed to building,” Orr said.

Stressing that he values the investment by Triple B in Fort Macleod, Orr said he raised the point to help provide clarity on what is a new by-law.

Coun. Jim Monteith disagreed.

“I think it’s when they start construction,” Monteith said. “Just because you have a development permit doesn’t mean you’re going to go ahead with construction. It’s just one piece of the puzzle.”

Monteith said since Triple B didn’t start construction until after the by-law was approved, its application should be accepted.

Coun. Marco Van Huigenbos agreed the development permit is a step to determine if a business plan is viable.

“We have to make a decision on either development permit or construction” Van Huigenbos said of eligibility for the tax incentive. “I feel construction is the actual motion of proceeding.”

Coun. Gord Wolstenholme lined up with Monteith and Van Huigenbos.

“I believe construction is the most important date,” Wolstenholme said. “Lots of people have gotten development permits who haven’t built.”

Orr suggested that when construction starts is nebulous and may be challenging to prove. He suggested the issuance of a building permit would provide a specific date.

Keenan suggested there is some latitude since it is the first year of the by-law.

“I think after this year it’s really not going to be relevant,” Keenan said.

Council confirmed with director of operations Adrian Pedro that Triple B started construction at the end of July or in early August.

The motion to approve the tax incentive passed with a unanimous vote.

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