Courtaulds development grant shot down again

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL, Ont. – The developers of a proposed seven-storey residential-commercial development at 1154 Montreal Rd. in the east end of Cornwall have been turned down again for a tax rebate. City council brought back the Heart of the City Rehabilitation & Redevelopment Grant application from a group of developers.

City councillors had turned down the recommendation two weeks ago from their own planning committee. At that time, the mayor ended up breaking a tie vote. But councillor Bernadette Clement was able to bring the matter back tonight through a procedural move. “This is not an application that is coming in from the side or from underneath…it’s a valid application. It would be too bad if we don’t support an application that focuses on accessibility.” Still, councillors were divided.

It doesn’t fit the program. The next (funding) program will be quite rich and they can apply for that….but I can’t support it,” said Coun. Glen Grant. Coun. Denis Carr echoed those sentiments. “The Heart of the City program was designed 10 years ago for the downtown and Le Village. I’m sorry but the Agape Center wasn’t in the priority area. You can’t change the rules half way through,” said Carr. “Are you going to put a sign up on the 401 saying ‘pay no taxes for 10 years’ because that’s what you’re doing,” he said.

Speaking in support of the grant, Coun. David Murphy suggested the city would stand to lose even more tax money after 10 years because the development won’t be there. “It deserves special treatment because of where it is,” said Coun. David Murphy.

Coun. Denis Thibault, who had been away for the last council meeting, was able to weigh in tonight. “The east end is not hard done by because of this council. The Courtaulds site…the city has invested significant money on that site…not from Heart of the City but the Community Improvement Program,” said Coun. Denis Thibault. “I fully support development of the Courtaulds land. How the next two councils are looking at the fact the expenses are continuing to go up and where are you going to get the dollars to offset the fact we’re not getting the taxes we should be getting,” Thibault said.

Mayor Bob Kilger voted against the grant saying it was “not a financially sustainable” position for the taxpayers of Cornwall. But the mayor commended the developers for their professionalism.

The grant would have given 962101 Ontario Inc. a tax increment grant of nearly $1.9 million. Gary Jans and a group of investors have said they might have to walk away from the development if they don’t get the grant. If the developers had received the HOTC grant, CFO Maureen Adams told council the city would have received only $190,000 over 10 years in tax revenue.

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