Comox Downtown Vitalization has been specified as one of the priorities in the Town’s Strategic Plan since 2012. Increasing residential density in the Downtown was identified as a key aspect of the Downtown Vitalization. A range of incentive tools were chosen to implement the Downtown Vitalization Program, and in June 2014 Council adopted several bylaws including Downtown Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 1784. On June 2nd, 2021, Council resolved to stop the tax exemption component. Available incentives encourage mixed-use commercial and residential development to support and increase not only Downtown businesses but also the area’s social and environmental vitality.
The objectives of the Downtown Vitalization Program are to increase the Town’s economic, social, and environmental vitality by:
- retaining and supporting existing businesses;
- attracting new community investments in the form of multi-family residential development;
- concentrating residential development within established areas with full municipal services; and,
- encouraging high-quality residential development, suitable for citizens “aging in place”.
The Downtown Vitalization Program does not rezone land and does not amend the Official Community Plan (OCP). A Development Permit is required for any new development in the Downtown Vitalization Area. Community consultation, rezoning, or development variance permit may be required for developments over three storeys.
Available Incentives for Development Applications
- Priority processing
- Building Permit fee reduction
- Planning Application fee rebate
Official Community Plan, Section 126.96.36.199, Downtown Comox Policies (PDF), supports a maximum of four storeys in height except in the case of sites with significant changes in grade. In addition, a higher height may be considered for the following, if satisfactory amenities are provided: redevelopment of the mall site, the north-west corner of Comox Avenue and Port Augusta Street (former Lorne Hotel), and the south-west corner of Comox Avenue and Church Street (Comox Legion).
Financial Costs of the Downtown Vitalization Program
The following aspects of the Downtown Vitalization Program are designed to reduce the financial exposure of the Town:
- $80,000 budget for combined Building Permit and Development application fee reduction;
- “Limited time offer” and “first come-first served” approach; and,
- Clearly meeting or exceeding all applicable Zoning and Development Permit Area regulations reduces application processing costs and time.
The Downtown Vitalization Program area is shown below: