Climate Action Tax Exemption Program

UPDATE

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the CATE Program Info Session that was scheduled for February 28, from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm has been postponed.

Please check back for a new date, to be scheduled soon! Thank you for your understanding.

Program Overview

Saanich’s Climate Action Tax Exemption (CATE) Program offers a capital incentive for electrification retrofits in commercial, multi-unit residential, and mixed-use buildings. The program encourages the conversion of fossil fuel-powered space heating and domestic hot water systems to electric mechanical systems through a municipal tax incentive.

The District of Saanich is offering a municipal property tax exemption up to 100% of project costs for multi-unit residential buildings and between 50-80% of project costs for commercial buildings. See full details in the exemption amounts and terms listed below.

 

Eligibility Requirements

To participate, eligible buildings must meet the following criteria:

  • Located within the District of Saanich
  • Commercial and/or multi-unit residential building under Part 3 of the BC Building Code
  • Not have any overdue property taxes or municipal utility bills owing for the property.
  • Use natural gas or oil for domestic hot water and/or space heating
  • Commercial buildings must have a land value ratio equal to or greater than 15, when calculated using the most recent BC Assessment values as per the following formula:
    • Land value ratio = (Building value / Land value) x 100

Eligible projects must meet the following criteria:

  • The retrofit project must replace a fossil-fuel mechanical system with an electric mechanical system for the building’s space heating and/or domestic hot water.
    • Complementary energy efficiency upgrades (e.g., windows or insulation) are eligible if bundled within the project and eligible under a Provincial or Utility incentive program.
    • Natural gas backup or hybrid systems are permitted, but may result in lower incentives as defined below.
  • The retrofit must be eligible for, and received funding from, a Provincial Incentive Program (e.g., CleanBC and/or BC Hydro).
  • For rental properties, no tenants may be evicted or permanently displaced as a result of improvements completed as part of the Project.
  • Participants must commit to energy benchmarking for the duration of the exemption term.

Exemption Amounts and Terms

A summary of the eligibility criteria for different building types under the Program are outlined in the following table. For an estimate of the potential tax exemption your project may receive through the Program, see our Tax Exemption Estimator [XLSX - 61 KB].

Multi-Unit Residential Building (rental apartment or condominium strata):

  1. Exemption amount: up to 100% of eligible project expenses (less incentives from other sources)
  2. Maximum exemption term: 10 years

 

Commercial Building:

Where: (a) no electrical service upgrade is required; and (b) a gas backup system is installed or retained:

  1. Exemption amount: up to 50% of eligible project expenses (less incentives from other sources)
  2. Maximum exemption term: 3 years

 

Where: (a) an electrical service upgrade is required; and/or (b) a gas backup system is not installed or retained:

  1. Exemption amount: up to 80% of eligible project expenses (less incentives from other sources)
  2. Maximum exemption term: 3 years

 

Strata Property:

Eligible Project Expenses and incentives are divided among strata lots proportional to the unit entitlement.

Mixed-Use Buildings (non-strata):

Exemption Amount is apportioned based on residential and commercial floor areas.

 Important notes:

  1. Only the municipal portion of the property taxes will be exempted. School, Hospital, or other applicable taxes that are collected by the municipality will still be owed.
  2. The actual value of your exemption will vary from the “Exemption Amount” as estimated, based on annually approved municipal tax rates and changes in assessed value of your property during the term of the exemption.

Steps to Participate

  1. Understand the Program.
  2. Submit an Application.
  3. Enter into an Exemption Agreement.
    • Once your application is accepted, the property owner and District of Saanich will enter into an Exemption Agreement (see Schedule A of the Program Bylaw for the template Agreement)
    • The Exemption Agreement outlines the terms and conditions upon which an Exemption Certificate will be issued.
  4. Complete the Project.
    • Undertake a retrofit project as described in the Application and supporting documents.
    • The project completion deadline will align with requirements of the CleanBC and/or BC Hydro Programs and will be specified in the Exemption Agreement.
  5. Submit Project Completion Documentation.
    • Submit Project completion documentation, including final project costs and Provincial incentive(s) received.
    • Proof of registration in Energy Star Portfolio Manager, with the District as a “read only” user to provide the building’s ongoing energy and emissions data for the full duration of the exemption term.
    • The District may use information provided to publish a case study on the project, as outlined in the Exemption Agreement.
  6. Receive Exemption Certificate.
    • Upon meeting all conditions, the District of Saanich will issue an Exemption Certificate.
    • The Certificate stays with the property, facilitating the transfer of the tax exemption to subsequent property owners during the Certificate's term.

Deadlines

  • Applications will be processed on a first-come first-served basis and approved subject to all eligibility requirements being met (non-competitive process)
  • Project completion deadlines will align with the requirements of your CleanBC and/or BC Hydro incentive(s) and will be specified in the agreement with Saanich.
    • Project completion documentation that is submitted on or before August 31 of a given year (step 5 above) will have their exemption certificate issued to BC Assessment by October 31, with the exemption taking effect the following calendar year.

Form and Document Submission

You may submit the application form, and other documents and forms throughout the program in the following ways:

1. By Email (Preferred):

Email to sustainability@saanich.ca with the subject line ‘Saanich Climate Action Tax Exemption Program - ADDRESS’.

2. By Mail:

Saanich Climate Action Tax Exemption Program
C/O Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives
Saanich Municipal Hall
770 Vernon Ave
Victoria, BC V8X 2W7

3. In Person:

Saanich Municipal Hall
3rd Floor Planning Desk
770 Vernon Ave
Hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Monday to Friday)

If you have any questions about the program or need support, please contact sustainability@saanich.ca or by phone at (250) 475-5494 ex. 3428, and ask about the Saanich Climate Action Tax Exemption Program.

Resources

CleanBC is a plan developed by the BC government to reduce GHG emissions across the province. CleanBC includes numerous programs to support projects aimed at energy efficiency and reducing GHGs. For Part 3 buildings, CleanBC Better Buildings offers several Commercial Programs.

Contact your BC Hydro Key Account Manager or the CleanBC Small Building Energy Coach for assistance in determining which program suits your project, or assistance in applying:

  • The CleanBC Custom Program offers energy study funding and capital incentives for fuel switching and other electrification measures. 
  • The CleanBC Custom-Lite Program is a simplified version of the larger CleanBC Custom Program and is intended to facilitate smaller electrification opportunities and fuel switching in existing commercial buildings.
  • The CleanBC Commercial Express Program facilitates simpler, smaller electrification opportunities across the commercial and institutional building sector.

For assistance developing a plan to manage energy use to achieve long-term savings, BC Hydro offers several tools and resources under their Strategic energy management: Commercial Program.

Program Background and Rationale

The District of Saanich has committed to reducing community GHG emissions and transitioning to renewable energy. Within Saanich, buildings are the second largest source of GHGs, and a large shift towards electrification in existing buildings is needed to achieve our climate targets and improve resilience to extreme heat events. To build market readiness for electrification retrofits in larger, more complex buildings such as commercial and multi-unit residential buildings, the District of Saanich is launching the CATE Program, established through the Climate Action Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw, 2023, No. 9932. The launch of a tax exemption program is identified as a High Impact Action in Saanich’s Building Retrofit Strategy.

This application of tax exemptions is the first program of its kind in BC. Revitalization Tax Exemptions are commonly used across BC to preserve heritage districts, encourage construction or renewal of multi-family buildings, or broadly support downtown revitalization. 

Form and Document Library

Program Contact Information

For more information, contact sustainability@saanich.ca or by phone at (250) 475-5494 ex. 3428.