Saanich Launches Tax Exemption Program to Encourage Building Electrification

January 30, 2024

News release
For immediate release

Saanich, BC – The District of Saanich is now accepting applications for its new Climate Action Tax Exemption (CATE) Program, designed to encourage electrification projects in large multi-unit residential and commercial buildings in the community.

The program, a first of its kind in B.C., supports Saanich’s climate goals and incentivizes the replacement of fossil-fuel (i.e. natural gas) space heating and domestic hot water systems with electric systems. By undertaking an eligible upgrade, owners of multi-unit residential buildings — including condominium stratas and rental apartment buildings — can receive a municipal tax exemption of up to 100% of project costs, after accounting for other rebates, for a maximum of 10 years. Commercial building owners can receive a tax exemption valued between 50-80% of project costs, for a maximum term of 3 years. To be eligible, participants must be accepted into a Provincial Incentive Program, such as CleanBC Better Buildings.

Buildings are the second highest source of GHG emissions in Saanich, and overheating is posing a growing health risk to occupants due to the increasing frequency and severity of heat waves caused by climate change. Switching to electric heating and hot water systems significantly reduces GHG emissions because 98% of BC Hydro’s power generation comes from clean or renewable resources. And if that new electric heating system is a heat pump, this also provides efficient cooling, which protects its occupants from dangerous heat waves. 

Saanich’s newly adopted Building Retrofit Strategy acknowledges that despite existing technologies, electrification retrofits in larger, more complex buildings are relatively rare. To meet Saanich’s target of reducing GHG emissions 50% by 2030, dozens of large buildings will need to electrify before the end of the decade. Incentives and supports are needed to overcome barriers related to capital costs and low consumer awareness. 

“We have seen tremendous acceleration in the number of fossil fuel to heat pump conversions in single family homes in our community. To date, these types of upgrades in larger, more complex buildings have been almost non-existent,” says Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock. “We are a few short years away from 2030, and this incentive is an innovative approach to increase electrification in commercial and multi-unit residential buildings and achieve our climate targets.”

An informational webinar on the new program will be held on February 28, 2024 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. To register for the webinar, or for more information and to apply to the program, please visit: Saanich.ca/climatetaxexemption.

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Media contact:
Saanich Communications
media@saanich.ca