The City of Ottawa could soon give tax breaks to prospective businesses who want to open in Orleans in order to bring more jobs to the east end.
The idea, which plans to add about 3,000 jobs in Orleans, reached the city's finance and economic development committee Tuesday.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he thinks it would be a "good experiment" to introduce tax breaks to help Orleans attract big business.
It would be called a tax incremental financing system, where about $20 million in property taxes would be deferred when a business starts up or expands in Orleans over the next five years.
But there was a backlash from some councillors in other areas of the city.
"Will a business moving into one area now change and go somewhere else because of this program?" asked Coun. Allan Hubley, who represents the riding of Kanata South. "We can't do that."
Local business expert Larry Ring, director of the Greater Orleans Economic Council, said the majority of people in Orleans work in the public service. Of that group, he said many are working for the Department of National Defence or the RCMP, sparking the nickname "CFB Orleans."
The concern, he said, is both those institutions are moving their headquarters west, which could take jobs away from the area. The job cuts to the federal public service have also caused concern.
Mostly part-time, low-paying jobs in Orleans
The businesses currently in Orleans, Ring added, do not provide stable, well-paid jobs.
"We're primarily retail, hospitality and service," he said, adding they are part-time, lower paying jobs.
The current ratio of people living and working in Orleans, compared to the number of homes, is only 0.5. The average for the rest of the city is above 1.3, Ring said, so encouraging new employers to open up shop in the east end is a must.
"If a prospective employer knows that the taxes are going to be lower, I would think that would be the number one incentive," he said.
Coun. Peter Hume also supported the idea, saying the infrastructure costs to get Orleans residents into work downtown are higher than any costs for the tax breaks.
The final details of the plan will be determined early in 2013.