The renovated Esquimalt and Nanaimo train station at 321 Selby St. will join three other Nanaimo properties on the heritage building tax exemption list, which will provide its owners with 10 tax-free years.
City council voted Monday to officially place the building on the list after agreeing in principal to the move in 2010.
Al Kenning, city manager, said that agreement would have been difficult to reverse.
“Investors and owners made business decisions based on the approvals,” said Kenning. “It would be an act of bad faith and would put them in a bad position if council didn’t follow through.”
The Island Corridor Foundation, which owns the land and building, applied for the exempt status because the proposed use at the time, a two-storey Irish pub, would have triggered taxation.
The station, which nearly burned to the ground in 2007, has received $2.6 million in renovations since and recently reopened with the pub and a small waiting area for train passengers.
According to ICF, the waiting area will be completed once the train service is re-established. If passenger rail service is not re-established the room will be leased to another commercial occupant.
A portion of the building has had a permissive tax exemption attached to it for a space used for charitable purposes. The heritage aspect results in the land and entire building being exempt. The exemption could only kick in once the renovation work was complete.
The exemption value over the 10-year period is about $300,000.
To support the project further, the city previously contributed $40,000 in capital funds through the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Area. It also approved a $10,000 Heritage Façade Grant for the stations’ exterior.
Chris Sholberg, the city’s heritage planner, said the goal of the Heritage Building Tax Exemption Program is to provide incentive for property owners to retain and upgrade important heritage buildings to modern standards while benefiting a revitalized downtown neighbourhood.
Other Nanaimo properties on the heritage tax exemption list include the Painted Turtle Guest House, the Great National Land Building at 17 Church St. and the Gusola Block at 104 Commercial St.