In its first session of 2019, Delta city council decided it needs more information before signing off on on tax freezes and cost waivers for developers wanting to build on Scott Road.
In an amendment to the Scott Road Revitalization bylaw, city manager Sean McGill recommended council approve a three-year tax freeze and waiver on building permit fees along the Scott Road corridor for new mixed-use buildings with a minimum of six storeys. The bylaw was originally approved for buildings with a minimum of 10-storey buildings.
Acknowledging the lost revenue in the short-term, McGill argued the incentives would “more than” make up for it once the city starts collecting from “the increased tax base.”
“I think we should incentivize them all because we do want things to change,” McGill told council on Monday, Jan. 14, noting the current bylaw has not delivered the desired results. “The existing bylaw does not allow for commercial incentives, so it’s not the uptake [of development] we hoped to see.”
Some council members, however, were not fully sold on the idea and want city staff to study how exactly the tax freeze and waivers would attract new development. Calling himself a neophyte, Coun. Dan Copeland said it was not clear to him how the incentives would work and to what they would apply.
“In my opinion, I would be more comfortable with a workshop as part of doing something like this,” Copeland said.
Coun. Lois Jackson recalled her own efforts as mayor to spark developer interest in the area between 94th and 96th Avenues and seeing little uptake. She mentioned how similar incentives worked in the Tilbury industrial area, but said she fears that incentivized six-storey buildings along Scott Road would be wooden structures and tough to maintain in the longterm.
“There were reasons for us doing them in other areas, but I am not so sure that I see a real reason for an entire strip — from 96th Avenue basically down to Number 10 Highway — of this width and this breadth,” Jackson said.
“I think it would be serving us well to send this back for more ability for everyone to understand what the rationale is for doing the entire strip of Scott Road in this manner.”
Coun. Dylan Kruger, meanwhile, was in favour of adopting the proposed amendment, provided lowering the minimum build height be the only eligibility requirement that changes.
“The argument here, of course, is that in the longterm, we are actually gaining a large amount of tax value because these are developments that may or may not happen otherwise, if there weren’t these incentives,” Kruger said.
Without clear consent on the amendment, acting mayor Bruce McDonald sent the amendment back to staff for further study on how the incentives will benefit the area. There is no definitive timeline for when a subsequent report and recommendation will be before council.
The bylaw to revitalize that part of Scott Road was first introduced in November 2012 and so far the only major development that to be completed along the corridor is Delta Rise, a 35-storey, mixed-use tower on the corner of 80th Avenue and Scott Road, though several other developments are at various stages of the approval process at the moment.