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September 21 and 22
2 days, 2 disciplines, 2 ways to participate – defining our professional roles and uniting to build more equitable, accessible and inspired communities.
Hamilton is well known for its use of community improvement plans (CIP) and financial incentive programs to achieve its planning and revitalization objectives. Since 1997, the City has had a series of long-standing incentive programs providing tax increment grants, low-interest loans, and property improvement grants specifically intended to revitalize Hamilton's commercial districts, including its downtowns, business improvement areas, and other strategic commercial corridors throughout the City.
A comprehensive review of this CIP and its programs was initiated in 2020 in order to ensure programs continue to be effective at supporting revitalization efforts as well better positioning programs to not only continue attracting new development but also to further incentive property owners and developers to address key City priorities within their developments. Through extensive engagement and discussion, changes are being brought forward to better incentivize developments to address two key City priorities: housing affordability and environmental sustainability. These priotiries are being reflected through changes, including modifying grant levels to further incentive developments that address these priorities, expanding the scope of property improvement grants to include environmentally sustainable improvements, and expanding the eligibility of new housing forms, such as laneway housing, to be eligible under low-interest housing creation loan programs. In addition, a new opportunity was identified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to introduce a new temporary commercial vacancy assistance program intended to mitigate the potential for ground-floor commercial vacancies by providing grants to prospective entrepreneurs and business owners for interior retrofits when establishing new shorter term (i.e. pop-up retail ventures) or longer term businesses in a currently vacant space.
The review and changes being undertaken represent an innovative case study of adapting existing CIPs and incentive programs to respond to emerging priorities, while still maintaining the original focus and goal of programs to support revitalization and economic recovery and growth.