With Meadow Lake’s municipal elections coming up, meadowlakeNOW spoke with the councillor candidates to gather their thoughts on residential building and improvement in the city.
In an effort to encourage builders and developers in the city, council passed a tax abatement bylaw which covers an array of residential buildings.
The bylaw is a residential infill housing property tax incentive. City Manager Diana Burton said this only applies when an older house is demolished and replaced with a new house. In these cases, the property owners get a tax rebate of 100 per cent in the first year, 50 per cent in the second year, and 25 per cent in the third year.
“We also passed a bylaw that would provide the same rebate as the Residential Tax Incentive (100 per cent, 50 per cent, and 25 per cent) for government sponsored residential developments,” Burton explained. “The criteria are a minimum of 10 dwelling units and being part of a federal or provincial affordable housing program.”
More information on tax abatements for residential buildings can be found here.
Most candidates fully supported the incentive, however, one was on the edge. Former Director of Education for the Northwest School Division, Glen Winkler was concerned about who is paying for the abatements.
“There’s a balance there, any abatement they get, other taxpayers are contributing the money so I’d like to hear the details on that and get all the facts before I say that’s the only way to go,” he said.
While he has questions about the incentive, Winkler does enjoy seeing the older homes torn down and newer ones put in the empty space.
With roughly 60 lots available for development in the city, incumbent Coun. Conrad Read said last year wasn’t a good year for residential improvements, however, years prior were with the construction of homes along Bridger Dr., Carl Dr., and Gibson Cres.
Through some strategic planning city council looked at where they would develop next for residential land. Read said there are some concept plans for South of the golf course with land the city owns.
“We’ve looked at planning and know what needs to be done if we choose to go in that direction,” he said. “We’re discussing on whether the city should develop those lots or do we rely on a developer to come in and build like in larger cities.”
If re-elected in the Oct. 26 election, Read wants to look at vacant lots throughout the city and consider ways the city can help if an individual or group wanted to develop them.
He added, any assistance offered would be budget based and at the end of the day, would depend on what the city can offer.
Feeling Meadow Lake has grown at a pace the city can handle, incumbent candidate Curtis Paylor said he enjoys having a mix of homes being built. Whether that’s mobile homes, duplexes, large or small houses, Paylor said having that mix is attractive to the different residents in that there’s a variety of affordability for different income levels.
“It’s really important for council to provide opportunities of all different levels for people to live in, whether that’s larger houses or affordability,” Paylor said. “Everyone needs somewhere to live so it’s important to have that mixed-node.”
Another incumbent candidate, Kim Chiverton said between the developments South of Meadow Lake and the homes being built inside, the city is growing “nicely.”
If re-elected, Chiverton wants to continue maintaining ownership pride while tweaking the nuisance abatement bylaw to keep areas clean, nice, and encouraging for people to move into.
Calling the growth steady, newcomer Tom Harrison said it’s great to see people involved in constructing houses. Harrison fully supports the tax abatement bylaw and added, if there are other initiatives council could look into, he’d be fully supportive of them as well.
“It’s an incentive like that which makes people want to invest and build so I would certainly encourage it and other beneficial opportunities (if elected),” he said.
While he likes new developments, incumbent Merlin Seymour was rather see open lots filled in versus new areas. However, he isn’t opposed to new developments if that’s what people want to do.
“There’s been some of that already but other than that, you can’t force people to build houses,” he said.
Richard Levesque did not return comment by publishing.
Mayor Gary Vidal was acclaimed following the Sept. 21 nomination deadline.
Voters cast their ballots on Oct. 26 at the Civic Centre.
Advance polls are being held on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at city hall and mail-in ballots are being accepted for the first time this election.
Colton Swiderski is meadowlakeNOW's municipal affairs, crime and court, health and education reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @coltonswiderski.
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