CIP Frequently Asked Questions
What are Community Improvement Plans (CIPs)?
Community Improvement Plans (CIPs) are grants and/or loans provided by a municipality to stimulate economic activity through a variety of means, including new building construction, expansion of existing building stock and building improvements (functional and aesthetic).
The Ontario Municipal Act, 2001 – Section 106(1) prohibits municipalities from engaging in bonusing – the practice of providing direct or indirect assistance to manufacturing, industrial or commercial businesses through the use of financial incentives. However, a municipality exercising its authority to implement a Community Improvement Plan under Section 28 of the Planning Act is exempt from this section (Municipal Act, Section 106(3)).
Municipalities with community improvement policies in their Official Plans have the authority under Section 28 of the Ontario Planning Act to designate a Community Improvement Project Area (CIPA) and to prepare and adopt a Community Improvement Plan (CIP).
When implementing a CIP, municipalities may also provide “grants or loans, in conformity with the community improvement plan, to registered owners, assessed owners and tenants of lands and buildings within the community improvement project area. (Planning Act, Section 28(7))
Eligible costs include those “related to environmental site assessment, environmental remediation, development, redevelopment, construction and reconstruction of lands and buildings for rehabilitation purposes or for the provision of energy efficient uses, buildings, structures, works, improvements or facilities (Planning Act, Section 28(7.1)).
Why is the Town of BWG offering CIP grants as financial incentives?
The Town of BWG established the revitalization of its downtown core as a strategic priority in its Official Plan (2002), to stimulate economic growth and creating employment opportunities and new living amenities for a growing population. The plan authorized the creation of a Downtown Revitalization Study (completed in 2011) and a Downtown Community Improvement Plan (completed in 2012) to help achieve these goals. The DCIP provided grant incentives to support the construction of new residential or commercial buildings, expansions or upgrades to building interiors and exteriors.
Following the implementation of the DCIP, the Office of Economic Development consulted the BWG business community to determine if an industrial CIP could assist in attracting new development, building expansions or upgrades. The concept was widely supported, leading to the creation of an Industrial Areas Community Improvement Plan (IACIP) in 2013.
The CIP programs have successfully incentivized business and residential (re) development throughout the CIP Areas, which led to the approval of a new DCIP and IACIP in 2022. The CIP programs are monitored on an ongoing basis, including formal mid-program reviews, to ensure that Council’s business and residential (re)development goals are being met.
What properties can be considered for CIP grants?
Each CIP program has a designated geographic area – called the Community Improvement Plan Area (CIPA), with corresponding maps. To determine if your property falls within the designated area, please visit here.
Properties that are in downtown BWG CIPA can be considered for Downtown CIP grants.
Properties that fall within Reagens Industrial Park or Artesian Industrial Park CIPA can be considered for Industrial Area CIP grants.
Consideration may be given for properties outside of these established areas, if the properties border one of the CIPAs. In such cases, Council approval will be required before a CIP application can move forward.
Who can apply for CIP grant funding?
A property owner or tenant can apply, for properties in the CIPA. If the application is from a tenant, the owner must provide written permission from the landlord. In cases of a building with multiple units, consideration may be given for a combined owner/tenant application.
What is the process for getting CIP funding?
- Complete the online application, outlining the scope of work, providing any drawings/renderings, and submitting two sets of quotes or a pro forma (detailed budget), and submit to the Office of Economic Development. This can all be done electronically via the interactive CIP application form.
- The application will be reviewed by the CIP Administrator who will work with you to build a business case and make a funding recommendation to the Evaluation Committee.
- Once the application and business case is deemed complete, it will be sent to the Evaluation Committee for their consideration and corresponding recommendation to Council. Applicants are not permitted to attend this session.
- The CIP Administrator will then submit the application to Council as a staff report, with both the Administrator and Committee recommendations. Timing for this process will depend on the amount of staff time required to prepare the staff report and scheduled meetings of Council.
- Council makes a funding decision and the applicant will be notified. If acceptable, the CIP Administrator will draft a contract and send to the applicant for review and signature. Once returned to the Town, the contract is executed when signed by both the Town Solicitor and Mayor. Scheduled payments can proceed based on the terms of the agreement.
When can I apply for CIP grants?
The application intake process is ongoing. Applications can be submitted at any time during the program duration.
Funding for the program is limited, and determined on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis.
Who sits on the Evaluation Committees and how often do they meet?
The Downtown CIP Evaluation Committee has staff representatives from the Planning, Engineering, Building, Finance and Economic Development Departments; one Councillor; a Director from the Bradford Board of Trade; and one representative from the Town’s Downtown Revitalization Committee.
The Industrial Areas CIP Evaluation Committee has staff representatives from the Planning, Engineering, Building, Finance and Economic Development Departments.
The Evaluation Committee meets as required, with no set timetable or number of scheduled meetings. The group can conduct its assessment of CIP applications via email, virtual meeting or in-person meeting.
What if I disagree with the funding recommendation?
Council has full discretion in approving a CIP application. They have the authority to approve some, all or none of the recommended grant amount.
During the application approval process, two recommendations are made: one from the CIP Administrator and one from the Evaluation Committee. If both are in agreement, one grant amount will appear as the recommendation in the staff report to Council.
If the Evaluation Committee disagrees with the recommendation of the CIP Administrator, the Committee’s grant recommendation will appear in the staff report to Council; however, the report will note the difference and provide a rationale for both.
If an applicant has any concerns with the grant recommendations, these concerns can be addressed via a Delegation Request to Council when the staff report moves forward.
In the event the applicant disagrees with Council’s decision, and has not already spoken to the issue via a Delegation Request, the applicant can request to speak at another Council meeting where they can request reconsideration of their application.
How and when are the grant funds paid out?
When a CIP grant has been approved, and a contract signed by all parties, the applicant submits account or banking information to the CIP administrator to arrange direct deposits to the account of the applicant’s choice.
Small scale projects (renovations) typically include two payments – 10% once the contract is signed and the remainder once the work has been completed to the satisfaction of the Town. Receipts are required for the final payment and the work may be subject to a building inspection.
Large scale projects have varying payment timelines due to their complexity.
Can CIP grants be transferred to another party?
In the event that an applicant has an approved CIP application with a contract signed by all parties, but cannot complete the scope of work, consideration may be given to transferring the CIP grant agreement and remaining payments to a third party to complete the work. In this case, all parties will need to sign an Assignment and Assumption agreement.
I have already started the work. Can I still apply for CIP grants?
No. Retroactive applications are not permitted.
When can I start the work, once I have applied for CIP grants?
Once an application has been submitted with the scope of work outlined, the grant application is considered active. Upon confirmation by the CIP Administrator, you can commence work. It must be noted however, that a successful application is not guaranteed and there is a risk the funding request may not be approved.
Who can I speak to concerning CIPs?
For any additional questions, please contact Michael Kemp in the Office of Economic Development at 905-775-5366 ext. 1302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.