In a move to spur development in the community, Castor’s town council is examining residential incentive programs.
Discussed during the Jan. 10, 2022, council meeting, one idea floated was for the municipality to build and sell a home on undeveloped, town-owned, property in an empty subdivision on the south side of town.
“Municipalities have started to develop land. You build a house a year,” said chief administrative officer Christopher Robblee.
“When that house sells, you build another. Municipalities like doing these kinds of things because it expands the tax base.”
Coun. Cecil Yates, a contractor with his finger on the pulse of development in the community, agreed that something needed to be done.
“We need to try to get something going,” said Yates.
“I think if you get one house out there, another will follow.”
Currently , the town does have a residential incentive program which gives homeowners a tax break, but according to Mayor Richard Elhard, people are wary to use it.
The reason for the wariness stems from only benefiting new builds on existing lots, which means old homes need to be torn down first.
With the risk of contaminants, such as Asbestos, driving up the cost of demolishing a building, it is not something people want to spend money on.
“It’s very costly to rip down that old house,” said Elhard, in a recent interview.
Elhard also noted, as an example of the high costs of Asbestos reclamation, that it cost the town about $40,000 to demo the arena during the renovation project.
“There are companies that do that work,” said Elhard.
“It’s like a license to print money.”
The current tax incentive provided by tearing down an existing structure and building a new one in its place freezes the tax rate at the previous structure’s tax rate, or the minimum tax rate, whichever is more, for three years, no matter the building placed on it.
Another issue surrounding residential development incentives concerns land itself.
Previously, in order to spur residential development it was common for municipalities to give away land for the purpose of new construction, or to sell it for a $1; however, recent changes to the Municipal Government Act have removed that ability.
According to Robblee, in order for a municipality to sell land, it must be sold at fair market value.
Council instructed Robblee to look into the legislation to find what they can legally do to entice new residents and report back at a later meeting.
Water and Gas
According to Robblee, water losses are “matching trends of previous years.”
Currently, the water losses for the town are sitting at just under 25 per cent.
In contrast to the deficit runnig water system, the town’s gas system continues to generate a small profit for the town.
As of the end of November, the town’s gas system was running a 5.47 per cent surplus, an amount that Robblee anticipates will creep up over 6 per cent once December billing is done thanks to the prolonged cold snap.