Council fine tunes economic investment zones

Penticton bylaw that sets out economic incentives for businesses returned to the council table for revisions Monday.

  • Oct. 20, 2011 3:00 p.m.

The stakes were high for the Penticton city bylaw that sets out economic incentives for businesses, as it returned to the council table for revisions Monday.

The economic investment zone bylaw returned to the council table to rescind third reading to allow for changes to expand the field of business interest to be attracted to the city. While it was brought back officially for inclusion of a sports facility, concern about the bylaw surrounding the proposed theatre complex at the Liquidation World popped up in chambers.

Barb Haynes from the Downtown Penticton Association said she hoped there would still be provisions from the city as business moves forward, especially with a major theatre project from Landmark in the works.

She said she had spoken with the Landmark president about theatre project, and was to update him about the bylaw’s progress that night.

Haynes was assured by several on council that provisions would be in place as Landmark’s application went through. “Our hope is that we can continue with that continuity,” she said.

“We’ve had significant conversations with staff. Our second floor is doing everything they can in moving this forward,” Coun. Judy Sentes said.

Haynes suggested there were implications without such a bylaw, noting she had indications from Landmark that they “have investors, too.”

Coun. Mike Pearce said the Landmark project is a go.

“I want as much competition here as I can get,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to keep this municipality open to investment and jobs.”

On. Oct. 3, council passed three readings for a revamped economic investment bylaw staff billed as offering “robust and targeted incentives” as a way of luring key tenants, or predetermined types of businesses, to the city as a way of kick-starting redevelopment in the area.

Anthony Haddad, the city’s development services director, told council Monday that since third reading was given, staff were directed to prepare amendments to the bylaw that would ensure a recently received proposal for a new training and dormitory project for the Okanagan Hockey School would be eligible for incentives.

As a result, Haddad said, staff are recommending tweaking the tourism and culture economic investment zone to include sports.

“Sporting facilities, such as the proposed Okanagan Hockey School facility, will be eligible for incentives under the revised bylaw,” he said.

A sporting facility would require certain elements to qualify, including where playing, instructing, supporting or viewing sport and recreation activities are intended. Offices, sport medical facilities, athlete housing and dining facilities could be included, but the zone would not include the retail sale of sporting equipment.

Haddad said that the existing area of the zone would not be changed. It focuses on lands surrounding the SOEC and commercial lands along South Main and Skaha Lake Road. Any sporting facilities meeting the criteria would be eligible for incentives under the bylaw.

The delay in revamping the city’s economic investment zones met mixed reviews from the gallery.

George Little, who sits on the Penticton Industrial Development Association, said he had reservations about pushing the bylaw changes through without a thorough review by city committees.

He described the initial bylaw as “well-vetted” and a comprehensive document, and felt that changes should follow the same due process the previous document underwent.

Annette Antoniak, the city’s chief administrative officer, said council could consider referring the documents back for review by economic development advisory and development services committee members, extending the existing bylaw that expires at the end of 2011 to ensure coverage.

Council unanimously agreed to rescind third reading of the revamped bylaw, referring the document back to committee. An extension of the current bylaw has also been granted. The OHS dorm project will come before council again on Oct. 17, according to a staff report.