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Cold Lake City council implements program to encourage development on vacant land

Cold Lake City Council has recently enacted a bylaw and two policies to incentivize building and growth on empty but ready-to-develop land within the community.  

The bylaw establishes tax subclasses for vacant commercial and residential properties. These subclasses differentiate vacant properties that have remained undeveloped for seven years or more from those that have been developed. Mayor Craig Copeland emphasized the goal of motivating land development, especially considering the increasing interest in significant developments within the community. Copeland highlighted that the burden on infrastructure and services created by undeveloped land affects the community negatively, depriving it of potential benefits such as job creation, services, and tax revenue.  

City staff identified 182 residential and 45 commercial properties that qualify as vacant under the new tax subclasses. Responding to concerns about overly punitive measures, Copeland noted the creation of a policy to provide incentives for selling empty land.  

To qualify for the rebate, the property must be listed on the Multiple Listing Service for at least 180 days in the tax year or be sold during that year. Applications for the rebate must be submitted between July 1 and December 31. Copeland emphasized that the rebate policy will be reviewed annually for renewal.  

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Overall, Copeland stressed the importance of balancing between discouraging land banking and providing incentives for placing empty land on the market. He believes these measures will facilitate development and growth within the community.  

For more information on councils’ creation of tax subclasses and the tax incentive to market vacant land for development, please visit the City of Cold Lake website.

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