A Community Improvement Plan, or CIP, is a tool that allows a municipality to direct funds and implement policy initiatives toward a specifically defined project area to encourage revitalization initiatives and stimulate development and redevelopment.
In 2021, Middlesex Centre Council adopted the Middlesex Centre Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to encourage rehabilitation and redevelopment across the municipality. The CIP builds and expands on the success of the 2013 Ilderton CIP. Through the CIP, funding is available to local businesses in the form of grants and reimbursements, as outlined below.
CIP Funding Programs
- Façade and Signage Improvement Grant
The Façade and Signage Improvements Grant has been designed to enrich the business storefronts, particularly along the main thoroughfare of a community. Professional design services that are required to undertake eligible work may also qualify for the grant program, with the pre‐approval of Municipal staff.
This grant is intended to encourage commercial property owners and tenants to revitalize, rehabilitate and restore building façades in order to encourage high-quality, attractive improvements to eligible commercial and mixed-used commercial buildings.
The grant is focused on exterior improvements to buildings that will support local businesses (both urban and rural) and tourism.
- Installation of new signs and replacement of existing signs
- Painting, cleaning and restoration of exterior, including masonry work
- Landscaping (only applicable to street-facing)
- Repairs to windows and doors
- Roof work
- Replacement of exterior architectural features installation and replacement of exterior lighting (including energy efficient upgrades)
- Alterations to awnings and other entrance features
- Professional design services that are required to undertake eligible work may also qualify for the grant program, with the pre-approval of staff.
The Municipality may provide a grant up to a maximum of $5,000 or 50% of eligible project costs (whichever is lesser) in order to improve the façade and signage of a commercial building. A maximum dollar value for the grant will be established annually based on the amount of funding made available for community improvement plan each year. The grant will be payable immediately following completion of the work to the satisfaction of staff.
- Development Charges Grant
The function of the Development Charges Grant is to reduce the costs of development and redevelopment of sites in order to stimulate construction within the CIP project area. Eligible fees include only those that are paid directly to Middlesex Centre as per the Municipality’s Development Charges By‐Law.
- Redevelopment of vacant (not greenfield) or underutilized commercial buildings, industrial buildings, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses, which are subject to the Municipality’s development charges
- Development (not greenfield) or redevelopment located in either the settlement or rural areas of the municipality
- Residential buildings are not eligible for this program
The owner or tenant of a property for which agricultural, commercial or industrial development charges are paid to Middlesex Centre may be provided with a grant equivalent up to a maximum of 50% of the charges paid. The building permit facilitating the payment of development charges must be approved by the Municipality in order to receive the grant, which will be in the form of a rebate. The grant will be processed immediately upon approval of the building permit by the Municipality.
- Property Tax Increment Equivalent Grant
The rationale for the Property Tax Increment Equivalent Grant is to encourage redevelopment and intensification of the urban area downtowns and their surrounding areas while facilitating the highest and best use of properties within the project area. In temporarily forgoing the increase in tax revenue that would be produced from an increase in the current value assessment as a result of the project, the Municipality’s goal is to stimulate private sector investment in the municipality.
This program assists by reducing the impact of a potential property tax increase resulting from a major improvement by phasing in the tax increase over a number of years. Once a permit has been issued to undertake an update to the property, the grant is determined based on the incremental change in the property tax owed following completion of the development project and a review by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. The grant will be in a form of a rebate paid to the property owner on an annual basis and in decreasing amounts until the property owner is paying the taxes without any assistance.
The Tax Increment Equivalent Grant cannot be combined with any other type of grant.
- Redevelopment of a property for commercial, office, industrial, mixed use or on-farm diversified uses that results in an increased tax assessment;
- Major additions to a commercial, industrial, mixed use involving an increase of at least 25% of the existing gross floor area that results in an increased tax assessment; or
- Any combination of the above
The Municipality may provide a tax increment equivalent grant for five years following the completion of a commercial, industrial or medium density residential development where the project results in an increase in current value assessment. The difference between the current tax assessment (i.e., prior to improvements) and the new tax assessment (i.e., after improvements) is the “tax increment”. The property owner is required to provide documentation of the prior and post-tax assessments to the Municipality.
The tax increment is granted to the property owner on an annual basis and in decreasing amounts, for a maximum period of five (5). In year one, the amount of the grant may equal up to 90% of the tax increment. In subsequent years, the amount of the grant shall decrease until it reaches zero. The chart below illustrates the breakdown:
- Year 1 – 90%
- Year 2 – 75%
- Year 3 – 50%
- Year 4 – 25%
- Year 5 – 10%
The total amount of any Tax Increment Equivalent Grant shall not exceed 50% of the total cost of the improvements or $5,000 annually, whichever is the lesser.
Following completion of the property improvements and receipt of the revised property tax statement, the property owner will be responsible for paying their taxes in full. The grant will be re-paid to the owner upon full payment of taxes, based on the applicable terms of the grant.
Note: To qualify for the Tax Increment Equivalent Grant incentive, property owners must speak to municipal staff prior to completing the application process to determine whether it this incentive is applicable.
- Building Fee Reimbursement Program
The building permit fee reimbursement program offers loans to offset required fees where a building permit is required for a construction project. The loan will help to reduce the costs to making major private property improvements and encourage desired improvements throughout the municipality. Fee reductions apply to the following application types:
- Demolition Permit
- Building Permit
- Sign Permit
- Redevelopment of a property for commercial, office, mixed use, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses;
- Major additions to a commercial, mixed use, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses, involving an increase of at least 25% of the existing gross floor area;
- Signage requiring a sign permit, in accordance with municipal by-laws, for commercial, office, mixed use, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses;
- Any combination of the above.
The building permit fee reimbursement will be a maximum of $2,500 or 100% of the Municipality’s fees, whichever is the lesser.
The reimbursement is provided after the site works (including construction) are complete to the satisfaction of municipal staff. This includes full payment of any applicable planning fees by the applicant at time of submission. Upon project completion a rebate for eligible fees, up to the stated maximum is provided to the applicant.
- Retrofits or Modifications to Premises to Improve Accessibility
This program encourages property owners to make external accessibility improvements to their commercial, tourist or recreational properties in order to bring them into compliance with Provincial Legislation. Relevant legislation includes the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
Accessibility improvements should not greatly compromise the character of the building or property and as such, this grant will assist owners in designing and implementing accessibility improvements that maintain key architectural elements. Improvements may include installation of accessibility ramps, automatic doors, or improving entryways.
- Installation of new or improvement of existing automatic doors, wheelchair access ramps, entryway widening, levelling or repairs to pathways/accesses, which clearly improve accessibility of a commercial, tourist or recreational building or property;
- Improvements to stairways/steps, provided the improvements are designed to maintain architectural elements of the property and are considerate of the existing site landscaping. Landscaping improvements may also be made in combination with the improvements, where applicable.
Middlesex Centre will provide a maximum grant of $2,500 or 50% of the eligible costs, whichever is the lessor.
Consultation with the County Accessibility Advisory Coordinator and municipal staff is recommended prior to proceeding with any retrofits. Once reviewed to ensure the retrofit meets the program eligibility by the County Accessibility Advisory Coordinator and municipal staff, the property owner will proceed and must provide receipts at the completion of the retrofit for reimbursement.
- Allowance for Renovation or Construction Costs related to a Significant Public Health Event
Should a significant public health event be declared by the Federal, Provincial and/or Middlesex London Health Unit, the Municipality will support area businesses for renovation or construction costs as a result of the pandemic.
These costs must be a direct result of the public health infection control directives and/or any associated by-laws that are implemented to combat the pandemic.
- Interior and exterior renovations and retrofits;
- Signage – both exterior or interior – to meet new health and safety requirements; and,
- Costs associated with any recommendations that are outlined by public officials.
Middlesex Centre will provide eligible businesses a one-time grant up to $2,500.00 to off-set the costs associated with significant health event such as a pandemic.
The property owner must provide receipts at the request of staff and must first enquire to determine eligibility prior to submission for reimbursement. Eligible costs may not be claimed by another program, i.e., façade and signage program so that the total grant/loan will not exceed the cost incurred.
- Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Grant
The Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Grant is intended to provide financial support to our business community who are environmentally conscious incorporating sustainable improvements that reduce the impact of our build environment on the natural environment.
This grant will encourage the pursuit of improvements to buildings and properties that incorporate Low Impact Design (LID) elements, green technologies, sustainable building materials, and energy efficiency.
This grant is applicable to businesses that invest in their properties and/or buildings incorporating green technology with the goal of energy efficiency.
- Replacement of existing heating systems with ENERGY STAR® systems;
- Replacement of central air-conditioning systems with ENERGY STAR® units or systems;
- Replacement of existing hot water systems with recognized energy efficient systems;
- Insulation upgrade to attics, exterior walls, exposed floors, basements and crawl spaces;
- Replacement of doors, windows and lighting with ENERGY STAR® models;
- Implementation of a green roof, which will mean a roofing system that is partially (at least 20% of the roof area) or completely covered with vegetation in order to absorb rainwater and to provide insulation;
- Installation of small-scale renewable energy generation systems which are not subject to approval under the Green Energy Act, as determined by the Ministry of Energy; and
- Other similar repairs/improvements as may be approved, at the discretion of the Municipality in consultation with staff.
Middlesex Centre will provide financial support to eligible businesses who undertake green initiatives with a grant of 50% of the construction costs of the eligible works, up to $7,500.
The property owner must provide receipts at the request of staff and must first enquire to determine eligibility prior to submission for reimbursement. Eligible costs may not be claimed by another program, i.e., façade and signage program so that the total grant/loan will not exceed the cost incurred..
Applying for CIP Funding
Middlesex Centre puts out calls for applications for CIP funding each year. We publicize that applications are being accepted in a number of ways, including social media and our e-newsletter. Once the call for applications is made, the process for applying is as follows:
- Read over the Middlesex Centre CIP document, which outlines the process from application to project completion.
- Meet with the municipal staff prior to submitting a grant application through the CIP. Middlesex Centre's Director of Community Services is the primary contact and will coordinate the initial consultation meeting between proponents and municipal staff.
- After discussing your project with municipal staff, complete the grant application form (which will be posted when the call for applications is made). You will need to provide details about the project work planned, estimated costs and timelines.
CIP - 2021 Grant Program
Application for 2021 funding were accepted until March 31, 2021.
At their meeting on April 28, 2021, Council approved CIP funding totaling $29,479 for local eight businesses (report). Most of the grants are supporting improvements to business façades and signage, with a total project value of $109,612.