The city’s finance and economic development committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend city council designate the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards a municipal capital facility.
The designation exempts eligible areas of the building from municipal and school taxes and is given to municipal facilities meant for public use.
The tax break is part of the city’s contribution to the 46,000-square-foot facility, which is scheduled to open this fall. A staff report recommends granting the designation, saying it would support the city’s economic development strategy by “providing entrepreneurs and startups with tools to encourage innovation, provide training, and access to support” at a location near what will be the crossroads of the city’s two light rail lines.
The report goes on to tout the makerspace and digital media lab as two key features of the centre.
The centre will also provide cultural and educational opportunities for students and host cultural and music events in partnership with local festivals. Its location across the street from Laroche Park – home to last weekend’s WestFest – could help it accommodate larger events, the report said.
The centre promises to be a “tourist destination” for diplomatic delegations and business visitors and will become the city’s “business embassy,” according to the report.
The report also says the centre will help diversify the local economy and assist in revitalizing the Mechanicsville neighbourhood.
With limited affordable meeting space in the area, the centre – with its 300-seat auditorium, 40-seat training room and 18 other meeting rooms – will be available for local community associations, BIAs and the Chamber of Commerce, the report adds. It will also provide a venue for city-hosted public meetings.
The centre is located in Kitchissippi Ward, and its councillor, Jeff Leiper, said he believes the programming proposed so far is only the beginning for what will prove to be a valuable city asset.
“The flexible space and the state-of-the-art facilities are unlike anything else available to the communities of Hintonburg and Mechanicsville, or indeed likely anywhere else across the city,” he wrote in the report.