Kelowna does about face on downtown tax exemption | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna does about face on downtown tax exemption

A worker exits the Okanagan Innovation Centre building on Doyle Avenue.
August 31, 2016 - 6:00 AM

KELOWNA - Downtown Kelowna needs more people, not just office space.

That’s why the city is converting the last chunk of the most successful of its three tax exemption zones to residential from commercial.

Tax exemption zones are used by Kelowna to encourage development in certain areas of the city.

Planner specialist Ross Soward in a report to council said the runaway success of zone three, which covered the area north of Doyle Avenue, has them rethinking the need for an incentive to build commercial development.

There was only ever 200,000 square feet available in zone three and the Okanagan Innovation Centre, at 105,000 square feet, has taken up more than half of it, Soward said.

That gives them a 50 per cent property tax exemption for 10 years with the city foregoing about $900,000 in annual tax revenue.

In an about face, planners recently suggested the balance of zone three be converted to residential, the argument being more residential is needed, not office space.

The soon-to-be former RCMP detatchment site, owned by the city and slated for a residential development, would qualify for the exemption.

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