Ki-Low-Na Friendship's housing secures tax exemption

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society is getting ready to open up its new 86 units of affordable housing at Central Green on Chapman Place next week.

And at Monday's meeting, council gave final approvals on a revitalization tax exemption for the property.

Planner Specialist Ross Soward says developers can apply for this exemption, provided they meet a few conditions.

"If you're willing to commit to do a 10-year purpose built rental housing agreement, you're eligible for a tax exemption on the revitalization amount for 10 years, as long as our vancancy rate is under 3%, which it is right now," he said.

Currently, Kelowna's vancancy rate sits at 0.7%.

Soward says the other action taken at the meeting was to adjust part of the lease.

"One of the clauses in our land lease with them, which I think was more of a standard thing that we have in a lot of our agreements, essentially said that they would need to pay some form of rent if they recieved an exemption, and so we just changed that clause so they would be eligible for the exemption." he said.

The revitalization exemption means that the Friendship Society isn't taxed on the improvements made to the site, which is leased long term from the city.

Soward says that calculation is made from the property's municipal tax assessment.

"They built this new rental housing project on land that was previously vacant, so they get the exemption. Whenever you look at a tax assessment, you'll get asessed for the land and then also the improvements to the land, which is like a building," he said.

When compared to similar projects, he  says the savings could be in the $80-100,000 range over the course of the 10 year agreement.

The three-level partnership combines the Friendship Society who's managing the building, along with the city who's provided the land, and the province who's paid about $15 million to build it.