The council has already recently broadened the scope of its revitalization tax exemptions by including new child care centers and expanding downtown boundaries.
Hotels and motels that are redeveloped into housing or mixed-use will be eligible for tax incentives, following a decision by Kamloops City Council that aims to encourage older motels and hotels to meet the city’s housing needs. .
On Tuesday, June 14, council reconsidered a proposed by-law to grant a revitalization tax exemption, meaning that the increase in the assessed value of improvements and property tax increases will be deferred for 10 years.
These tax exemptions provide incentives to encourage development deemed desirable by the city. The council has already recently broadened the scope of its revitalization tax exemptions by including new child care centers and expanding downtown boundaries.
The proposed hotel and motel redevelopment has, however, been put on hold, following concerns from the accommodation industry over the potential loss of hotel rooms. Mixed use may include hotel rooms, in addition to residences. The intent of the bylaw is to encourage the redevelopment of hotels and motels that have previously been used as housing. Hotels and motels have housed seniors, students and low-income families in Kamloops as housing prices have soared and inventory is low. Some motels have also been purchased and/or leased by BC Housing.
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In January, the board referred the proposed bylaw to an engagement group set up to help inform policy. The Engagement Group is made up of representatives from the development community, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, the North Shore Business Improvement Association, the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, Venture Kamloops, the general public, and city staff. .
Planning and Development Supervisor Eric Beach told council that Tourism Kamloops and the Kamloops Accommodation Association attended a subsequent meeting of the advocacy group and expressed concern about the hotel inventory and noted that the settlement did not create a level playing field.
Beach said the engagement group was still recommending the new bylaw at the end of the day, however, to identify a housing crisis in Kamloops — not a hotel room crisis.
“No one has pointed out that there’s a hotel room crisis in the group,” Beach said.
Com. Mike O’Reilly said he struggled with the decision, noting nothing had changed since the settlement was last presented to council and questioned the incitement to demolish hotels and motels while hotel rooms are in demand.
Com. Dale Bass said council has spoken a lot throughout this term about the need for more housing. She said if there was a void in hotel rooms in Kamloops, she was confident it would be filled.
“It’s a way to get more housing, so we have to support it,” she said.
Council voted 6 to 2 in favor of the hotel and motel revitalization tax exemption by-law.
Councilors Bass, O’Reilly, Dieter Dudy, Sadie Hunter, Bill Sarai and Arjun Singh voted in favour. O’Reilly conceded that while the bylaw is “not perfect,” he would support it and encouraged industry to return to the city if problems arise in the future.
Mayor Ken Christian and Councillor. Denis Walsh opposed it. Walsh said he preferred to include an allowance for hotels in the revitalization tax exemption, which was another option. Com. Kathy Sinclair was absent.
The rules have been read for the first three times but will have to be adopted at a future meeting.