An operating budget adjustment of $1 million has been redirected from the Downtown Incentives Reserve to fund the Downtown Incentives Program. The decision was made during yesterday's Airdrie City Council meeting.

Council also rescinded seven Downtown Incentives Resolutions and replaced them with the Downtown Incentives Policy. According to the Downtown Incentives policy as agreed to by council, the policy, '... Establishes incentives aimed to accelerate redevelopment and revitalization in Airdrie’s downtown.'

"This policy applies to properties and businesses in Airdrie’s downtown unless otherwise specified."

Adena Malyk Downtown Revitalization Coordinator presented to city council before council's decision.

Adena Malyk Downtown Revitalization Coordinator presented to city council before council's decision.Adena Malyk Downtown Revitalization Coordinator presented to city council before council's decision. (Graphic Credit to The City of Airdrie)

​She explained that in 2022, city council adopted a Our Core Strategy: A Revitalization Plan for Downtown Airdrie and seven resolutions to provide fiscal and administrative incentives to accelerate redevelopment in the Downtown. 

"... The $2 million downtown incentive reserve [was established] in late 2022. Since that time, a significant amount of work has occurred in order to meet administration's commitment to return with more information before requesting a budget amendment from the reserve fund."

She added that in October 2022, city council had expressed several concerns regarding the downtown incentives, especially that there were no application forms or established criteria evaluation for an approval process.

"To Council, it didn't seem like administration had a plan and they were unsure of where this all was going. From that point, an external consultant was engaged to start framing the program specifics instead of dedicated downtown staff. Shortly after, I stepped into this role, that work wrapped up and we engaged a third-party law firm to review all the incentives information and draft legal agreements."

In response to Mayor Peter Brown's questions surrounding funding, Malyk explained that the $2 million that had been previously set aside, was inside of an internally restricted fund.

"I'm asking for a transfer of those funds [$1 million] into the Administrative Operating Budget to fund the program. It will be only used to fund the incentives program." she clarified.

Mayor Brown said he was entirely clear on the roll-out of the policy.

"This is a very vague policy framework, and it has a lot of discretion; and I'm still not understanding who's going to benefit from it."

City documents outlined that, 'the culmination of this work led to a recommendation for Council to withdraw the seven incentive resolutions and replace them with a Council Policy and an aligned Administrative Policy, endorsed by the Executive Leadership Team (ELT).'

"This change of course formalizes Administration’s ability to operationalize the incentives, provides a mechanism that creates the granting process and meets the original intent of the resolutions. All while providing the opportunity for Administration to be adaptable and nimble to learnings during implementation, experiences in changing market conditions, and stakeholder feedback."

Malyk explained that through the development of the council and subsequent administrative policies, they have pulled together all the missing pieces that council was previously weary of.

"We simplified the seven resolutions into eight funding streams. We built application forms for each stream, identified and detailed program guidelines, eligibility specifications, and evaluation criteria, and drafted legal agreements. We have also formed an incentives review committee and created a process for adjudication decisions and funding."


Expedited Development Permit Reviews

"The city commits to provide an expedited level of service and certainty for development decision timelines for new development and redevelopment projects within the CRL [Community Revitalization Levy] boundary.

The purpose of the expedited development permit reviews is to issue a decision on a development permit application for new developments within 10 business days of determining that the application is complete, subject to the City Manager’s discretion.

Parking Structure Subsidy

This subsidy, according to the new downtown incentive policy will allow The City to subsidize the construction costs of above or below-grade parking structures at a rate identified by the City Manager and annually approved by Council. The policy encompasses properties and businesses in Airdrie’s downtown.

Those that are eligible include, 'New development or redevelopment on properties located within the CRL boundary are eligible for Parking Structure Subsidy if the structure supports a development that achieves a floor area ratio of 2.50 or greater.'

Façade Improvement Grant

This incentive is geared towards The City being able to subsidize the cost to a property owner or tenant to enhance their existing non-residential building by improving the visual aesthetic of a property and providing benefits to the pedestrian realm.  

"Existing non-residential properties or tenants located in the Downtown are eligible for the Façade Improvement Grant, subject to other requirements as determined by the City Manager."

Beautification Grant 

"The City may subsidize the cost to a property owner or tenant to make fixed or temporary improvements that add vibrancy to their businesses and buildings. Existing non-residential properties or tenants located within the Downtown are eligible for the Beautification Grant, subject to other requirements as determined by the City Manager."

City documents also added that The City may subsidize the cost to assist downtown businesses with the development of new or improved patios. Other incentives include the Activation and Collaboration Grant, and the Environmental Site Assessment Grant.

With the approval of council, administration will now have several tasks, including beginning marketing the incentives program immediately; making information publicly available by April 15, on the City’s website; as well as opening applications to the program on May 1.  

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