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Calgary heritage homeowners could get 75% tax break

A hefty tax rebate could be coming soon for Calgary heritage homeowners.

On Wednesday, council’s planning and urban development (PUD) committee will hear the updated report on heritage conservation tools and incentives.

One incentive outlined in the report is for heritage property owners to receive a 75 per cent rebate on their property taxes – up to $50,000.

The administration report recommends the incentives for the 2023 to 2026 budget and beyond, depending on city finances.

There are 665 known eligible properties that could qualify, the city report said.

“I think we’ve been waiting a long time for concrete financial incentives,” said Josh Traptow, executive director of Heritage Calgary.

“These incentives will go a long way to further heritage conservation in the city.”

Coun. Jyoti Gondek, chair of the committee, said some the heritage homes have a lot of work that needs to be done. They have many old systems that can’t be sustained anymore.

She gave the example of converting the old heating systems into something more modern. Not just to be energy efficient, but because that system may not work anymore.

“When you think about the level of expense to fix problems in a heritage property, it’s significantly higher than a new build,” she said.

The rebate program

To access the rebate program, the house must already be designated. Traptow said many homeowners want to designate their properties as heritage sites.

If they designate without the incentive, they would face economic loss, especially if it was zoned for higher density. He said the incentive will encourage those homeowners to designate.

The rebate itself, however, doesn’t need to be dedicated to the houses. Homeowners can use the rebate at their discretion. But homes that are designated are required upkeep based on city bylaws.

Gondek said members of the community and council will indeed have questions about that aspect. She suspects they will wonder why some property owners are getting a financial benefit they may never use.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of debate around that,” she said.

But Traptow said we can’t tie incentives to upkeep of the property since people are making the decision to designate on their own.

“Often times the houses designated are in tip top shape and they may not need to have any work done on them,” he said.

While they may not need the upkeep, homeowners would still likely reinvest the money into their properties even if it wasn’t required by the city.  

“Every heritage owner I’ve ever met has taken great pride in their property,” said Traptow.

“Overall, it’s a very positive step forward for heritage preservation in the city.”

The 31 residential sites that would immediately eligible would cost the city $95,000 annually over 15 years.

The discussion on Wednesday will also cover non-residential heritage grants. Committee members will also review incentive areas, direct control heritage areas and discretionary heritage areas.

  • with files from Darren Krause