Updated Downtown and Industrial Area Community Improvement Plans have been given the green light from council
Community Improvement Plans (CIP) will soon once again be on the books in Bradford West Gwillimbury to support the downtown and industrial areas.
Town council passed the updated Downtown Community Improvement Plan and the Industrial Area Community Improvement Plan at its meeting April 19. Bylaws to enact them will be introduced at an upcoming meeting.
Last month, a public meeting on the updated CIPs was held where councillors and residents received an in-depth overview of some of the changes being proposed to update the plans and make them more economically feasible for the town, without hampering their appeal to business and property owners.
Councillors were happy to see adjustments were made to the plans based on the discussion in the public meeting. Most changes were minor in nature, including further clarification for interior renovations that would qualify, as well as more flexibility to support “back of house” facades.
The modernization of the program will help council achieve its objectives for the future of the community, Coun. Jonathan Scott said.
“Not only (with) exterior and interior renovations to create a vibrant downtown or create jobs in our industrial park, but also things like accessibility, environmental measures and, to an extent, heritage protection in the downtown,” he said. “We’re really using – and leveraging – public dollars to get the public policy goals our constituents want.”
The renewal of the program, Scott added, has seen a renewed interest in businesses or organizations taking advantage of the funding available. Coun. Mark Contois hopes it provides the impetus for those considering improvements to make the plunge.
“I think it’s a great incentive for those who are sitting on the fence to actually do those improvements to their buildings,” Contois said. That has an added benefit beyond what people see on the outside, he suggested, as often improvements to HVAC or sprinkler systems are carried out simultaneously, improving the safety and quality of life for any tenants who may reside in the mixed-use spaces downtown.
Overall, they were happy to see the plans continue, carrying on the decade of change they’ve helped usher in throughout the community.
“It has done great wonders for our downtown community (and) it’s absolutely done some great opportunities for our industrial park,” said Deputy Mayor James Leduc. “These programs have been well-served in our community.”
The changes to the plans will not require any additional funding from the town at this time. The 2022 budget allotted $250,000 to support the CIP programs.
Comments were received from the provincial government on the updated plans but weren’t required for their approval, as the defined areas encompassed by the plans are not changing at this time. Plus, as marketing coordinator Michael Kemp told councillors, the bulk of the comments put forward by the province echoed what had been heard at the public meeting.
The province would play a larger role if the CIP boundaries were to change, or new programs were to be added. Staff noted that during the consultation process, many comments were received about incentives surrounding the Highway 400 employment lands, Bond Head and affordable housing. It’s something the town is considering, but not during this budget cycle. The approximately $35,000 required for the study has yet to be allocated.