Empty South Colborne still costly for city

When City Council wrapped up its end-of-year tax adjustments just prior to the winter break, the south side of Colborne Street, devoid of buildings since the summertime, popped up once again. On top of the costs associated with the appropriation and demolition of properties along the street, which was finally completed in June, the city is also losing about $180,000 in tax revenue from those buildings that were still occupied prior to demolition.

While $180,000 isn’t an enormous sum in terms of a city budget, the money will have to come from somewhere. At present, the city is looking at a 2% budget increase, though nothing has been finalized yet.

In terms of recovering or even increasing these tax revenues, it all comes down to what is done with the currently empty space along South Colborne. The only concrete proposal that has been put forth to date is a jointly owned and operated recreation centre by Laurier Brantford and the YMCA. Both of these institutions are exempt from property taxes so the city would not recover the losses. Taxes aren’t everything however.

“We get other benefits than taxes from our relationship with Laurier and the Y,” says Mayor Chris Friel. “People want to believe that taxes are the only thing that we base our judgments on and the truth is that… it’s a very significant consideration, but where we work from [Laurier] is a corporation that we realize has more to do with community development.”

Of course, any taxes that may or may not be collected are contingent on Laurier securing the space for a recreational centre. Laurier’s plans are the most developed at present, but there are plenty of ideas in circulation. Councillor Marguerite Ceschi-Smith has proposed a community consultation to guide the development process. Ultimately it seems that even though those buildings are gone and the reconstruction process has begun, the saga of Colborne Street is far from complete.

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