The City of Airdrie is exploring the possibility of applying for the Alberta government’s Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) to help fund its rejuvenation of downtown.
According to alberta.ca, CRLs allow municipalities to “borrow against future property tax revenues to help pay for infrastructure required to spur new development in a specific area.” The completion of improved infrastructure like new roads, wastewater system upgrades or municipal buildings helps attract private investment and increase property values.
At a regular Airdrie City council meeting Oct. 5, Community Growth Manager Stephen Utz outlined how a CRL can help increase a municipality’s property assessments and commercial tax revenue.
“Essentially, what it does is allow for an area that is perhaps not as well developed as would be desired, but has a lot of potential for development, to be supported in its redevelopment through redirecting provincial and municipal revenue from incremental increases in the assessed value as a result of making certain improvements,” he said.
“So, you have an area you think would do well, if only it had certain elements or pieces of infrastructure in place, and you finance them through this tool.”
Creating a more vibrant downtown is one of City council’s strategic priorities and public feedback garnered through the Downtown and Economic Strategy Visioning consultations in 2018 revealed residents feel it is necessary.
Applying for a CRL requires the approval of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Examples of successful CRLs include the City of Calgary’s overhaul of its Rivers District in 2008 and the City of Edmonton’s downtown revitalization in 2013.
Utz noted the government has not approved any CRL applications in seven years.