Chilliwack keeps its competitive edge

No accident that Chilliwack was just cited for its low fees and tax regime, and quick turnaround process for building permits

Less red tape, taxes and fees in Chilliwack make it stand out on the provincial landscape for commercial development.

Chilliwack was just cited for its low fees and tax regime, and a very quick turnaround process for permits, in the 2014 municipal report card issued by Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP).

“It’s huge,” said Brian Coombes, president of Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, about the stellar report card results from the Vancouver chapter of NAIOP. “This is something City of Chilliwack has worked extremely hard for.”

It’s the second time this month Chilliwack has been recognized for affordable land and development costs, and tax structure.

It was also noted in the Colliers 2014 Lower Mainland study, Rising Cost of Industrial Occupier Facilities.

“Chilliwack is the number one, lowest-cost option (and Abbotsford is a close second) in the Lower Mainland to acquire land, design and build the benchmark facility, at almost $5.2 million,” according to the Colliers study.

“While Chilliwack and Abbotsford are in the Fraser Valley Regional District and officially outside the Metro Vancouver region, this shows how the two cities offer compelling value in terms of land and development costs and the municipality with the most competitive property tax structure in the Lower Mainland: Chilliwack.

In the City of Vancouver it would be just over $7.6 million to build the same facility, “representing a whopping premium of 46 per cent, not to mention annual property taxes that are 70 per cent higher than those in Chilliwack.”

So it’s no accident that these accolades are rolling in for Chilliwack, Coombes offered, and said the kudos in the NAIOP report card came in last year as well.

It’s noteworthy that the new numbers are coming from independent studies, and were not the result of City of Chilliwack press releases, he underlined.

When it comes to bringing jobs, investment and businesses to Chilliwack, CEPCO reps are aware it often comes down the financial bottom line for corporate decision-makers, despite the extremely high quality of life here.

So making sure the business environment is seen as “competitive and attractive” to business continues to be job one for CEPCO and the city, said Coombes.

The study results make it clear that Chilliwack has made it easier for developers to cut through the red tape and regulatory requirements to invest in new commercial development.

“It’s a competitive atmosphere in the Lower Mainland so a city like Chilliwack has to do something to stand out,” said Coombes.

Keeping the business tax multiplier at the lowest level possible sends a message to business leaders that they will not be punished.

“Not just saying it but doing it makes a difference,” said the CEPCO head.

City hall leadership made a conscious decision to facilitate factors that cut the red tape, and permit times.

He mentioned neighbourhoods like Garrison Crossing and the ones near the Vedder Rotary Trail, as well as Canada Education Park and the growing commercial base in Chilliwack.

“It’s a community with a bright future,” said Coombes.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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