West Port Moody – A Win-Win
Concluding this series of three (1) (2) posts on West Port Moody, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the tax benefits that we could gain from a new village centre, or gateway, in this part of town. This is an important topic since some folks worry that converting old industrial property to mixed commercial and residential uses could actually cost us.
That’s because they’re thinking of “heavy” industry, defined as “lumber and pulp mills, mines, smelters, chemical plants, large manufacturers, ship building and loading terminals for sea-going ships”. And that type of operation pays a much higher rate of property tax per square foot than other uses. I vaguely recall someone telling me it was up to ten times as much as residential property for example, and two or three times as much as light industrial and commercial property.
According to the new Official Community Plan, there aren’t any “heavy” industrial properties slated for redevelopment in West Port Moody, and to the best of my understanding, the old Andres Winery site was classed as “Light” industry. A representative of the site’s owners, Andrew Peller Ltd. had told me that the annual taxes paid on the non-residential portion during its operating years, now over ten years ago, amounted to approximately $100,000. As a realtor, and a committee member of the initial Hi-Tech Park proposal in 2010, I believe that if redeveloped to the maximum potential today as a light industrial park, it could yield about $350,000 annually in property taxes; “not bad” you might say?
But what would happen tax-wise if that property were redeveloped for non-industrial, retail, office and residential uses, e.g., some stores, a medical-dental facility, and some condos, for example. Services and amenities that the area badly lacks? Would we as taxpayers be better or worse off?
According to the mixed use redevelopment proposal that the Andres Winery owners presented to the public in 2007, it would include some stores, light industrial offices, retirement home, both low rise and high rise condos like Newport, open spaces, the rehabilitation of South Schoolhouse Creek, and improvements to the Trans Canada Trail. At the time I recall a crude ‘napkin’ calculation had been shared that estimated the site as a whole would generate a combination of residential and business property taxes worth roughly $1.5 million annually; even better!
Admittedly, there would be more residents using the services those taxes provide, but in a dense multi-family format that uses far less services per household than single family homes, it’s difficult to see this as a losing proposition for the existing taxpayers. I should add that the number of jobs projected in that proposal was around 300, or ten times the number who ever worked there when it was operating as a winery!
When you put these jobs and tax revenue beside the community amenities and revitalization generated for the entire western neighbourhood by such developments, for the first time they look like a win-win to me.