Tax break should favour apartments, housing commission says

Officials for the City of Regina are recommending changes to an incentive program to favour smaller apartments in the downtown area.

City of Regina may tweak policy for downtown residential construction incentive

Officials for the City of Regina are recommending changes to an incentive program to favour smaller apartments in the downtown area.

Regina currently offers a property tax holiday, for five years, for new construction of apartments and condominiums in the downtown.  

Here is what officials are recommending for the incentive program:

  • Construction of new rental units will continue to be eligible for a 100 per cent holiday on property taxes for five years.
  • New condominium-style projects will be eligible for the same five-year incentive, but each unit will be limited to a maximum benefit of $7,500.

On Thursday, during the first meeting of the city's new housing commission, city officials suggested changing the incentive so that rental apartments would continue to get the full tax break while owner-occupied condominiums would be limited.

"What we want to see is a shift toward smaller units that will support singles who enjoy living downtown but don't need a 1400 square foot apartment or condo," Jennifer Barrett, a senior city planner, told CBC News Thursday.

Regina's mayor, Michael Fougere, has made affordable housing a priority for the city. He said Thursday that he wants to see Regina's residential rental vacancy rate, which has been below two per cent for several years, improve to three per cent by 2017.

Regina's rental market eased a little earlier this year, with a vacancy rate of 1.9 per cent noted in April, which was up from 0.9 per cent in 2012.

The new commission will meet monthly to discuss Regina's housing issues.

Any changes to the incentive program, which was introduced in 1997, would need approval of city council.

(With files from CBC's Kiran Dhillon)

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