Province approves CRL for downtown Edmonton

Province approves CRL for downtown Edmonton - image
Greg Southam/Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON – The Alberta government approved the City of Edmonton Capital City Downtown Community Revitalization Levy on Thursday, allowing the city to apply a CRL to an area of downtown to help fund revitalization projects.

The Government of Alberta introduced Community Revitalization Levies to help cities and towns stimulate activity and economic growth in under-developed areas in their communities.

According to the province’s Approved Orders of Council, the Minister of Municipal Affairs approved the Capital City Downtown CRL Regulation on Thursday, but also included a list of conditions for the city going forward.

The decision means the city has the ability to apply a CRL to a certain area of downtown Edmonton, and taxes stemming from revitalization in that zone, like new construction and rising property values, will be used to help pay for the CRL catalyst projects.

The levy only applied to property located in the Downtown CRL zone.

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Edmonton city council has approved a boundary for the Capital City Downtown CRL. Supplied, City of Edmonton

Revenues from the CRL would be used to pay for the catalyst projects approved by city council. According to the city’s website, projects include the “downtown arena and related infrastructure, increasing the capacity of the sewer system, Jasper Avenue revitalization, park development and increased walkability.”

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The City estimates the Capital City Downtown CRL can generate between $612 million and $1.1 billion over its 20 year life.

Under a CRL structure, the city borrows money to pay for the construction of the CRL projects. The city says those finished projects will spark economic growth in the area, and the increase in property tax revenue from the new development and rising property values will be dedicated to paying for the projects in the CRL.

The CRL will not change the total amount of taxes collected in the area, and the tax rates will be the same as for the rest of the city. The taxes will be based on the assessed market value of the property.

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Only the taxes stemming from revitalization — new construction and rising property values in the CRL zone — will be used to help pay for the CRL catalyst projects, including the arena.

In May, Edmonton city councillors approved the final arena funding model in a vote of 10 to 3.

Under the city’s plan, $279 million in funding for the arena project would come from Community Revitalization Levy and other City incremental revenues.

The entire project comes in at just over $604 million.

According to the government, the city can only enforce the CRL if council passes – and the Lieutenant Governor in Council approves – the CRL bylaw.

Also, before passing the bylaw, the city must:

–          prepare a community revitalization plan for the Capital City Downtown Revitalization Levy Area

–          hold one or more public hearings on the proposed community revitalization plan in accordance with section 606 of the Act, and

–          make and keep a record of any public hearings, and make the results of those public hearings available to the public.

For more information on the requirements, click here.

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