Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan (CIP) Grants

The Downtown CIP supports the implementation of the Downtown Secondary Plan and is focused on implementing the City’s economic development strategy. It contains several grants, such as the tax increment-based grants, the minor downtown activation grant and the façade improvement and feasibility study grants.

The 2014 Program Launch for the Downtown CIP Grants is scheduled for Monday, May 26, 2014. The deadline for applications is Friday, June 27, 2014.

To schedule a pre-application meeting, please contact 519-822-1260 x 2780 or downtown@guelph.ca.

Frequently asked questions

What is a community improvement plan?

Municipalities may create community improvement plans according to Ontario’s Planning Act to facilitate improvements within targeted areas. These plans allow municipalities to create financial or other types of tools, or direct capital investments – such as tax increment-based grants – towards achieving community goals.

What is a tax increment-based grant?

Tax increment-based grants are tools to attract private-sector investment and stimulate development in targeted areas of the City. They are based on the difference between property taxes collected on a property before development and the estimated taxes that will be collected after development. They are reconfirmed against actual taxes before any grant monies are paid. Following is an example of how the difference, which amounts to the tax
increment-based grant, is calculated.

Property taxes post-development – $400,000

Property taxes pre-development – $200,000

Tax increment-based grant – $200,000

Why is the City promoting tax increment-based grants?

They help to achieve Guelph’s community improvement goals of reducing the number of contaminated sites in the City, maintaining more heritage buildings and renewing Guelph’s downtown. They also contribute to the growth of the City’s assessment base by attracting real private sector projects.

Are projects that are eligible for a grant automatically approved by Council?

No. Applying for grants is a separate process from seeking Council Planning approval for projects. All projects, regardless of whether they are eligible for a grant, must go through the City’s planning and development approvals process and seek Council approval where required.

Do other municipalities offer tax increment-based grants?

Yes. Tax increment-based grants are a tool used to achieve community goals by St.
Catharines, Oshawa, Waterloo, Cambridge, Kitchener, Chatham-Kent, Thunder Bay,
Kingston, London, Barrie, and Hamilton.

Do tax increment-based grants provide tax breaks or tax relief to property-owners?

No. Property-owners pay all property taxes while projects are underway. The City pays the grants after projects are completed and re-assessed, and property-owners continue to pay all property taxes based on re-assessed property values through the grant period.

What is the tax increment-based grant for brownfields?

Guelph’s tax increment-based grant for brownfields pays property owners 80 per cent of the of the tax increment, in instalments, over a maximum of 10 years. The remaining 20 per cent of the tax increment is used to fund other Brownfield CIP related programs.

What is the tax increment-based grant for heritage buildings?

The Heritage Redevelopment Grant supports the redevelopment of designated heritage properties and is activated through the Ontario Heritage Act.

What is the Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan?

This plan supports the implementation of the Downtown Secondary Plan and is focused on implementing the City’s economic development strategy. It contains several grants, such as the tax increment-based grants, the minor downtown activation grant and the façade improvement and feasibility study grants.

What is the Downtown Secondary Plan?

A. This Official Plan Amendment provides the physical vision for accommodating the Growth Plan targets for the Urban Growth Centre of adding 3,000 units and 1,500 new jobs to the existing downtown area. The Plan identifies the need to achieve more parks and trails, maintain our distinctive heritage properties, expand our cultural events, improve our transit experience but most significantly, attract private-sector investment in commercial and
residential development. Tax increment-based grants for downtown, heritage properties and brownfields are important tools for triggering this private-sector investment.

What is the downtown major activation grant?

The major downtown activation grant is a tax increment-based grant for major redevelopment projects involving significant redevelopment for commercial and/or residential buildings.

What is the downtown minor downtown activation grant?

The minor downtown activation grant is not a tax increment-based grant. It is for mid-size renovation projects, such as vacant and underutilized downtown properties. Grants may be awarded for 30 per cent of a project’s capital costs, up to a maximum of $120,000.

What is the downtown feasibility study grant?

The feasibility study grant is not a tax increment-based grant. It is for supporting feasibility studies to assess downtown redevelopment opportunities. Grants may be awarded for 50 per cent of the cost of a feasibility study to a maximum of $5,000 per building.

What is the downtown façade improvement grant?

The façade improvement grant is not a tax increment-based grant. It is a grant for repairing or restoring facades of downtown buildings that have ground-floor commercial uses. Grants may be awarded for 50 per cent of the cost of eligible work up to a maximum of $10,000 per property with one façade, $20,000 for buildings on corner lots and $30,000 for properties with multiple facades and shop fronts.

How much has Council approved in 2012 for the minor downtown activation grant, façade improvement grant and the feasibility study grants?

Council has approved $260,000 for these grants.

Facade Improvement Grants

The Facade Improvement Grant encourages businesses and property owners to improve the appearance of the streetscape, heritage properties and other buildings in downtown Guelph.

Businesses within the Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan Area, can apply for a grant in order to:

  • repaint
  • restore facade masonry and brickwork
  • restore architectural features
  • replace or repair windows
  • improve the appearance of entrances
  • redesign storefronts
  • install new signs (subject to design approval)
  • install or repair canopies and awnings
  • install or repair exterior lighting

What to know before you apply

The building must be located within the Downtown Community Improvement Area, and have commercial uses at ground floor level. Building tenants must provide written authorization from the registered property owner. To be eligible for grant funding, applications must satisfy the City’s downtown design policies that generally encourage:

  • high-quality contemporary and traditional storefront and sign design
  • preservation, conservation and enhancement of upper-story facades

Your application should also comply with the guidelines and principles set out in the following documents:

Downtown Guelph Private Realm Improvements Manual

Downtown Facade Improvement Guidelines

Grant amounts

Property owners are eligible to receive:
  • up to $10,000 per street address or storefront
  • up to $20,000 for both frontages of a building on a corner lot
  • up to $30,000 for multiple storefronts on a single building

The total value of any grant may not exceed 50 per cent of the total cost of eligible works. Up to 10 per cent of the grant may be used to pay for design or consultant fees or other “soft” costs.

We’re here to help

The Downtown Renewal Office can help you develop the best application possible. Before completing your application, please contact the City of Guelph Downtown Renewal Office and arrange a pre-application meeting. This meeting must be conducted before June 27, 2014 in order for you to proceed with your Downtown Façade Improvement Grant application.

Important policies and guidelines

If the total value of all grant applications exceed the amount of funding available, all applications will be rated based on predetermined criteria. The City of Guelph reserves the right to deny or refuse any application.

How to Apply

Checklist

For more information

City of Guelph
Downtown Renewal
Telephone: 519-822-1260 extension 2780
Email: downtown@guelph.ca

Downtown Feasibility Study Grant

Apply for up to $5000 to make plans and estimate costs to renovate your downtown property or business.

The Downtown Feasibility Study Grant promotes building redevelopment and rehabilitation in downtown Guelph. The grant helps businesses and property owners determine if building renovations or upgrades are physically and financially feasible.

Businesses and property owners located within the Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan Area are eligible to apply for a grant in order to:

  • perform structural analyses
  • evaluate mechanical or electrical systems
  • develop concept plans
  • perform market analyses

Grant amounts

Property owners are eligible to receive grants of up to $5,000 per street address. The total value of any grant must not exceed 50 per cent of the total cost of eligible works.

What to know before you apply

Building tenants must provide written authorization from the registered property owner in order to apply for a grant. Studies used in your grant application must be prepared by qualified professionals.

If the grant recipient decides not to proceed with the grant, the study becomes a part of the public record and can be made available to any subsequent proponents.

We’re here to help

The Downtown Renewal Office can help you develop the best application possible. Before completing your application, please contact the City of Guelph Downtown Renewal Office and arrange a pre-application meeting. This meeting is must be conducted before June 27, 2014 in order for you to proceed with your grant application.

Important policies and guidelines

Your application should comply with the guidelines and principles set out in the following documents:

Downtown Guelph Private Realm Improvements Manual

Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan

Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan Implementation Guidelines

The City of Guelph reserves the right to deny or refuse any application.

How to Apply

Checklist

• Completed Downtown Feasibility Study Grant application form
• Pre-application meeting with Downtown Renewal Office

Downtown Feasibility Study Grant Program Brochure

For more information

Downtown Renewal Office
Telephone: 519-822-1260, extension 2780
Email: downtown@guelph.ca  

Minor Downtown Activation Grant

The Minor Downtown Activation Grant promotes the building redevelopment and rehabilitation in Downtown Guelph. It is for mid-size renovation projects within vacant and underutilized downtown properties. Grants may be awarded for 30 per cent of a project’s capital costs, up to a maximum of $120,000 per municipal address. A minimum of two residential units or 200 square metres to 799 square metres of office/commercial space per project is required. Repairs to existing vacant and/or underutilized properties are eligible. Businesses within the Downtown Guelph Community Improvement Plan Area, can apply for a grant in order to:

  • Upgrade to the mechanical and electrical systems
  • Installation of safety and fire protection systems
  • Structural upgrades
  • Upgrade and installation of windows
  • Accessibility improvements
  • New technologies (e.g. telecommunications)
  • Building Insulation
  • Consultant Fees
  • Fire suppression systems
  • Carpentry
  • Masonry
  • HVAC
  • Interior renovations
  • Parkland dedication contributions
  • Municipal planning development applications and building permit fees

How to Apply

Checklist

• Completed Minor Downtown Activation Grant application form
• Pre-application meeting with Downtown Renewal Office

For more information

Downtown Renewal Office
Telephone: 519-822-1260, extension 2780
Email: downtown@guelph.ca

Major Downtown Activation Grant

The Major Downtown Activation Grant is currently under review.

The Major Downtown Activation Grant is a tax increment-based grant for major redevelopment projects involving significant redevelopment for commercial and/or residential buildings. Tax increment-based grants are tools to attract private-sector investment and stimulate development in targeted areas of the City. They are based on the difference between property taxes collected on a property before development and the estimated taxes that will be collected after development. They are reconfirmed against actual taxes before any grant monies are paid. A minimum of eight residential units or 800 square metres of office/commercial space per project is required. Eligible costs may include:

  • Parkland Dedication contributions
  • Municipal planning and building permit fees
  • Off-site infrastructure improvement costs (underground services including relocation, pavement, sidewalk, curb & gutter, lighting, intersection improvement, and parking) but exclude costs that are not routinely required for servicing the site.
  • Construction cost premium for the provision of underground parking or structured spaces vs. surface parking
  • Construction cost premium for making development ‘District Energy Ready’

For more information

Downtown Renewal Office
Telephone: 519-822-1260, extension 2780
Email: downtown@guelph.ca

 

Last Updated: May 16, 2014. Broken links or incorrect information? Let us know!