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City re-evaluating its development grants, loans and incentives

Certain Community Improvement Plans have been put on pause as city staff review the programs for a report to be tabled with city council this summer
176 Larch Street in downtown Sudbury is being renovated by owner Krishna Challagulla to accommodate affordable residential housing units for students. It successfully secured $170,000 in grants and loans through the city's Community Improvement Plan program.

The City of Greater Sudbury has paused certain Community Improvement Plans while it reviews its slate of financial incentives aimed at spurring economic growth.

Ward 4 Coun. Pauline Fortin tabled the successful motion regarding the city’s collection of grants, loans and tax incentives during this week’s planning committee meeting, which was seconded by Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier.

With only $250,000 budgeted toward the programs each year, Fortin told after Monday’s meeting that her goal is “to be able to stretch that dollar as best we can to get the best leverage on the money that we’re investing.”

Fortin voted against awarding at least two Community Improvement Plans (CIPs) in recent weeks, including approximately $170,000 in grants and loans toward a downtown student housing project and $30,000 toward the Knox Hall events venue downtown (which accompanied an additional $60,000 awarded a few months previous).

The two rounds of CIPs awarded to Knox Hall were for the landlord, and then the tenant, although both parties are the same people.

Fortin’s motion, which passed on Monday, puts a pause to this kind of arrangement wherein the owner and tenant submit concurrent applications for the same property.

It also pauses those portions of new applications to CIP programs that include facade improvements and the loan program.

“The facade improvement grant, while not inherently a negative program, it does happen to yield the lowest-level return,” Cormier told, noting the tax benefit ends up yielding a break-even point for the city.

Although the pause and staff review of CIPs appears to target certain types of applications, Cormier clarified that it’s not meant “to knock the applicants,” who received financial incentives under the current system as approved by city council.

“I would put this in the classification of growing pains,” he added. “Our CIP programs have been underutilized for many years relative to a lot of other municipalities. In the last 18 to 24 months we’ve seen a rather large uptick, which is what we want, but with that comes growing pains.

“This isn’t about ‘cracking down’ on any one type of application, it’s about looking at the whole thing, tweaking it, making sure it works better for us as a city, for the citizens of the city and the commercial districts we’re trying to encourage with these programs.”

Fortin added that although the majority of CIPs are awarded to assist in the development of downtown properties, the downtown cores of outlying communities throughout the City of Greater Sudbury are also eligible, and people should be applying for them as well.

Although the annual budget for the city’s CIPs is $250,000, the budget is a bit more complicated than that, Cormier said.

The city’s tax increment equivalent grants, for example, are deferred taxes and aren’t counted as cash, and the loans portion of the programs is paid back and replenishes the fund.

Plus, there are projects such as Brewer’s Lofts condominiums and the Le Ledo downtown hotel, which were awarded CIPs but did not proceed (the old brewery is now for sale and the Le Ledo property was purchased and levelled by the city).

A sunset clause comes into effect and these funds are put back into the city’s CIP fund.

Following Fortin’s motion, staff are expected to table a report with city council by the end of June which outlines policy options related to façade improvements, concurrent applications per property, loans and grant caps based on property value and set amount.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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