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(Posted 9:30 a.m., Nov. 8)
City unveils Orléans economic develop.m.ent plan
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The City of Ottawa's long-awaited economic develop.m.ent plan for Orléans was unveiled during Tuesday's finance and economic develop.m.ent committee meeting with little fanfare.

The plan seeks to accomplish two objectives. The first objective is to attract knowledge-based employers to the area, and the second is to improve Orléans' jobs to househols ratio, which has been stuck at the 0.5 mark for the last two decades, by 10 per cent.

The city wide job to household ratio is 1.3. In order to improve the Orléans ratio by 10 per cent will require a net gain of 3,000 new jobs over the next five years.

The economic develop.m.ent plan, which city staff have labled the Community Improvement Plan or CIP, seeks to attract knowledge-based industires such as wireless, photonics, clean technologies, life sciences, aerospace and defence to Orléans which has become overly dependent on professional services and hospitality industry businesses.

The city plans to attract new emergining-sector businesses to Orleans through a tax-equivalent-financial inducement or TIF. In essence the TIF will give developers a "tax holiday" for all or a portion of a any increase in municipal taxes resulting from property improvements.

For example, if property taxes charged prior to develop.m.ent or redevelop.m.ent was $10,000 per year, and because of increased assessment arising from the value of the new develop.m.ent, the property taxes increase to $100,000, the tax increment would be $90,000.

Under the economic develop.m.ent plan, the City will offer relief from having to pay the incremental amount, or a predetermined portion thereof, for a limited period as an incentive to induce the property owner to invest in the property.

Before the plan is finalized and implemented, the city plans to hold a series of consultation sessions with Orléans businesses and prospective businesses to determine how best to proceed and define the types of businesses and program details that would be most appropriate in encouraging businesses to locate in the area.

The economic develop.m.ent implementation plan presented to the finance committee on Tuesday makes no mention of how the city plans to measure the success, or failure, of the program.

Some committee members seemed more upset with the concept of offering a tax holiday to developers than the were about whether or not the plan would actually work.

Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley took issue with the propoed tax inducements, warning that the businesses would leave once the hoilday had ended.

But Blackburn Hamlet Coun. Rainer Bloess said the concerns were unwarranted, pointing out that the tax holiday would be offered to develop.m.ents that wouldn't exist without he Community Improvement Plan.

“We’re not shovelling cash at anybody,” Bloess said. “What we want to see is the building that comes in with the jobs that come in.”

City council will get a chance to debate the proposed plan at their next meeting on Nov. 14.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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