Minto approves changes to incorporate Wellington County CIP into local program

MINTO – Town council has approved changes to the municipality’s Community Improvement Program (CIP) to make it accessible to more local businesses and to incorporate elements of a new Wellington County CIP.

Minto has had a CIP since 2009. The program, which originally applied to downtown areas of Clifford, Harriston and Palmerston, was later expanded to the entire urban areas of those communities.

Grants to local businesses for façade and signage work as well as building structure improvements, building permit and development charge rebates, affordable housing, land banking and other improvements are provided through the program.

In a report presented at the March 19 council meeting, former Minto CAO Bill White, now a senior planner with Triton Engineering Services, explained that while Wellington County, as an upper tier government, does not have the authority to offer incentives directly, it can fund local municipalities to offer incentives so long as they are approved in the local CIP. 

Local municipalities can only offer incentives outlined in an approved CIP.

“The county program is set under the umbrella of ‘Invest Well,’ which includes 

‘Invest Ready’ incentives package and ‘Invest More” grant program,” White notes in the report. 

White stated the county program encourages:

– strategic land use improvements to intensify urban areas;

– efficient use of existing infrastructure; and 

– active transportation. 

“Rental housing options for various incomes and business requirements are encouraged, including mixed-use projects in downtowns,” the report continues.

“Projects that revitalize built-up areas and implement county green building standards are supported, as are initiatives that create jobs to build a more ‘diverse, prosperous and resilient economy.’ Finally, the program supports tourism-related development that encourage overnight stays in the county enhancing tourism facilities, experiences and services.”

In the report, White said Triton would assist the town in amending the CIP in three ways:

– apply current incentives to all of Minto rather than just urban areas;

– apply county incentives to all of the Town of Minto; and

– format and clarify changes to make the Minto CIP more readable and less technical.

Minor policy changes

The report notes minor policy changes relating to possible grants for public art, urban design and outdoor patios. It also clarifies that criteria for certain incentives will be brought forward for council to consider, along with whether a loan program should be offered.

Minto business and economic manager Belinda Wick-Graham said the changes will allow the town to offer a small urban design grant of $500, which businesses could put toward enhancements like planters or benches in front of their buildings.

Mayor George Bridge noted, “the county budget’s $160,000 and it’s first come, first served … we’ve got to get on this.”

Bridge said the county’s CIP includes a loan program.

“I think that’s a great win for us …. because they have the expertise to do a loan program,” he stated.

“It’s good news having both levels of government involved,” he said.