South Glengarry wants to go it alone on CIP

LANCASTER – Attempting to get in front of a county-wide development incentive plan, South Glengarry council has told its planning department to start drafting and budgeting for its own Community Improvement Plan (CIP).

County council will discuss the regional plan tomorrow morning (Tuesday at 9 a.m.).

But South Glengarry council gave to nod to Community Services General Manager Joanne Haley last week to start crafting a South Glengarry specific CIP.

A CIP allows a municipality to direct money to a certain area to spur development, such as a downtown or brownfield. The help is given through one or more options: laddered tax rebates, loans and specific grants.

Exactly how much the budget will be is still undecided as council will have to look at the program options and their associated costs. Based on CIPs in the other townships, it could be in the range of $20,000-60,000 a year.

During her presentation, Haley made note that what the county is proposing is technically illegal – an upper-tier municipality can’t operate a CIP. But it’s believed the county would be more of a money handler for the townships which would administer the CIP program.

Haley said the county wants to regionally focus on brownfields, agri-tourism, lodges and cabins (roofed accommodation).

Right now, North Glengarry, North Dundas and South Stormont (three of the six lower-tier municipalities) have their own CIP programs in place.

South Glengarry council would lose some control under the county plan, Haley cautioned.

“There would be no opportunity for our local residents or local businesses to come forward and maybe do those facade improvements we might like to see on our main streets. It would be that county-wide regional approach,” Haley told councillors.

There’s also the concern about cost-benefit for South Glengarry, as it pays the lion’s share into county services based on its assessment (22.3 per cent).

Coun. Trevor Bougie wants to develop a local CIP and see what the need and want is locally “before just letting the counties take over and doing their thing.”

“I think now with the United Counties approaching this, and if we only offer a regional approach and we have individuals coming from main street Lancaster or Martintown, and we have to say sorry we’re not doing that…I think we have residents looking for this type of process,” Haley said.

As for running the CIP, Haley said that would be done by herself and the economic development and communications officer – a position that still needs to be filled.

Like it or not, South Glengarry could still get roped into the county plan. The township only has two of 12 votes around the county council table.