A Community Improvement Plan, or CIP, is a tool that allows a municipality to direct funds and implement policy initiatives toward a specifically defined project area to encourage revitalization initiatives and stimulate development and redevelopment.
In 2021, Middlesex Centre Council adopted the Middlesex Centre Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to encourage rehabilitation and redevelopment across the municipality. The CIP builds and expands on the success of the 2013 Ilderton CIP. Through the CIP, funding is available to local businesses in the form of grants and reimbursements, as outlined below.
CIP Funding Programs
- Façade and Signage Improvement Grant
The Façade and Signage Improvements Grant has been designed to enrich the business storefronts, particularly along the main thoroughfare of a community. Professional design services that are required to undertake eligible work may also qualify for the grant program, with the pre‐approval of Municipal staff.
This grant is intended to encourage commercial property owners and tenants to revitalize, rehabilitate and restore building façades in order to encourage high-quality, attractive improvements to eligible commercial and mixed-used commercial buildings.
The grant is focused on exterior improvements to buildings that will support local businesses (both urban and rural) and tourism.
- Installation of new signs and replacement of existing signs
- Painting, cleaning and restoration of exterior, including masonry work
- Landscaping (only applicable to street-facing)
- Repairs to windows and doors
- Roof work
- Replacement of exterior architectural features installation and replacement of exterior lighting (including energy efficient upgrades)
- Alterations to awnings and other entrance features
- Professional design services that are required to undertake eligible work may also qualify for the grant program, with the pre-approval of staff.
The Municipality may provide a grant up to a maximum of $5,000 or 50% of eligible project costs (whichever is lesser) in order to improve the façade and signage of a commercial building. A maximum dollar value for the grant will be established annually based on the amount of funding made available for community improvement plan each year. The grant will be payable immediately following completion of the work to the satisfaction of staff.
- Development Charges Grant
Note: Applications for Development Charges Grants will not be accepted in 2024, as Middlesex Centre will be updating its Development Charges Study.
The function of the Development Charges Grant is to reduce the costs of development and redevelopment of sites in order to stimulate construction within the CIP project area. Eligible fees include only those that are paid directly to Middlesex Centre as per the Municipality’s Development Charges By‐Law.
- Redevelopment of vacant (not greenfield) or underutilized commercial buildings, industrial buildings, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses, which are subject to the Municipality’s development charges
- Development (not greenfield) or redevelopment located in either the settlement or rural areas of the municipality
- Residential buildings are not eligible for this program
The owner or tenant of a property for which agricultural, commercial or industrial development charges are paid to Middlesex Centre may be provided with a grant equivalent up to a maximum of 50% of the charges paid. The building permit facilitating the payment of development charges must be approved by the Municipality in order to receive the grant, which will be in the form of a rebate. The grant will be processed immediately upon approval of the building permit by the Municipality.
- Building Fee Reimbursement Program
The building permit fee reimbursement program offers loans to offset required fees where a building permit is required for a construction project. The loan will help to reduce the costs to making major private property improvements and encourage desired improvements throughout the municipality. Fee reductions apply to the following application types:
- Demolition Permit
- Building Permit
- Sign Permit
- Redevelopment of a property for commercial, office, mixed use, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses;
- Major additions to a commercial, mixed use, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses, involving an increase of at least 25% of the existing gross floor area;
- Signage requiring a sign permit, in accordance with municipal by-laws, for commercial, office, mixed use, value-added agricultural facilities, or on-farm diversified uses;
- Any combination of the above.
The building permit fee reimbursement will be a maximum of $2,500 or 100% of the Municipality’s fees, whichever is the lesser.
The reimbursement is provided after the site works (including construction) are complete to the satisfaction of municipal staff. This includes full payment of any applicable planning fees by the applicant at time of submission. Upon project completion a rebate for eligible fees, up to the stated maximum is provided to the applicant.
- Retrofits or Modifications to Premises to Improve Accessibility
This program encourages property owners to make external accessibility improvements to their commercial, tourist or recreational properties in order to bring them into compliance with Provincial Legislation. Relevant legislation includes the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
Accessibility improvements should not greatly compromise the character of the building or property and as such, this grant will assist owners in designing and implementing accessibility improvements that maintain key architectural elements. Improvements may include installation of accessibility ramps, automatic doors, or improving entryways.
- Installation of new or improvement of existing automatic doors, wheelchair access ramps, entryway widening, levelling or repairs to pathways/accesses, which clearly improve accessibility of a commercial, tourist or recreational building or property;
- Improvements to stairways/steps, provided the improvements are designed to maintain architectural elements of the property and are considerate of the existing site landscaping. Landscaping improvements may also be made in combination with the improvements, where applicable.
Middlesex Centre will provide a maximum grant of $2,500 or 50% of the eligible costs, whichever is the lessor.
Consultation with the County Accessibility Advisory Coordinator and municipal staff is recommended prior to proceeding with any retrofits. Once reviewed to ensure the retrofit meets the program eligibility by the County Accessibility Advisory Coordinator and municipal staff, the property owner will proceed and must provide receipts at the completion of the retrofit for reimbursement.
- Allowance for Renovation or Construction Costs related to a Significant Public Health Event
Should a significant public health event be declared by the Federal, Provincial and/or Middlesex London Health Unit, the Municipality will support area businesses for renovation or construction costs as a result of the pandemic.
These costs must be a direct result of the public health infection control directives and/or any associated by-laws that are implemented to combat the pandemic.
- Interior and exterior renovations and retrofits;
- Signage – both exterior or interior – to meet new health and safety requirements; and,
- Costs associated with any recommendations that are outlined by public officials.
Middlesex Centre will provide eligible businesses a one-time grant up to $2,500.00 to off-set the costs associated with significant health event such as a pandemic.
The property owner must provide receipts at the request of staff and must first enquire to determine eligibility prior to submission for reimbursement. Eligible costs may not be claimed by another program, i.e., façade and signage program so that the total grant/loan will not exceed the cost incurred.
- Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Grant
The Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Grant is intended to provide financial support to our business community who are environmentally conscious incorporating sustainable improvements that reduce the impact of our build environment on the natural environment.
This grant will encourage the pursuit of improvements to buildings and properties that incorporate Low Impact Design (LID) elements, green technologies, sustainable building materials, and energy efficiency.
This grant is applicable to businesses that invest in their properties and/or buildings incorporating green technology with the goal of energy efficiency.
- Replacement of existing heating systems with ENERGY STAR® systems;
- Replacement of central air-conditioning systems with ENERGY STAR® units or systems;
- Replacement of existing hot water systems with recognized energy efficient systems;
- Insulation upgrade to attics, exterior walls, exposed floors, basements and crawl spaces;
- Replacement of doors, windows and lighting with ENERGY STAR® models;
- Implementation of a green roof, which will mean a roofing system that is partially (at least 20% of the roof area) or completely covered with vegetation in order to absorb rainwater and to provide insulation;
- Installation of small-scale renewable energy generation systems which are not subject to approval under the Green Energy Act, as determined by the Ministry of Energy; and
- Other similar repairs/improvements as may be approved, at the discretion of the Municipality in consultation with staff.
Middlesex Centre will provide financial support to eligible businesses who undertake green initiatives with a grant of 50% of the construction costs of the eligible works, up to $7,500.
The property owner must provide receipts at the request of staff and must first enquire to determine eligibility prior to submission for reimbursement. Eligible costs may not be claimed by another program, i.e., façade and signage program so that the total grant/loan will not exceed the cost incurred..
Applying for CIP Funding
Middlesex Centre puts out calls for applications for CIP funding each year. We publicize that applications are being accepted in a number of ways, including social media and our e-newsletter. Once the call for applications is made, the process for applying is as follows:
- Read over the Middlesex Centre CIP document, which outlines the process from application to project completion.
- Meet with the municipal staff prior to submitting a grant application through the CIP. Middlesex Centre's Director of Community Services is the primary contact and will coordinate the initial consultation meeting between proponents and municipal staff.
- After discussing your project with municipal staff, complete the grant application form (attached below). You will need to provide details about the project work planned, estimated costs and timelines.
- Review your grant application against the evaluation criteria (attached below) to ensure you've captured all the required elements.
CIP - 2023 Grant Program
The application window for 2024 CIP funding will open February 1, 2024. Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2024.
The application process is outlined above. Please be sure to contact Scott Mairs, Middlesex Centre's Director of Community Services, to arrange for an initial consultation meeting before you apply.
CIP - Recipients
2023 Grants: At their meeting on May 17, 2023, Council approved CIP funding totaling $14,187 for three local businesses (report). The grants are supporting improvements to façades and signage and energy efficiency, with a total project value of $28,374.
Approved 2023 CIP grants:
- McLachlan Pancakes for energy efficiency and retrofits (total estimated project cost of $13,769.07; municipal contribution of $6,884.54)
- Sakata Sushi for façade and signage improvements (total estimated project cost of $7,065.00; municipal contribution of $3,532.50)
- Komoka Mortgage for façade and signage improvements (total estimated project cost of $7,540.00; municipal contribution of $3,770.00)
2022 Grants: At their meeting on May 4, 2022, Council approved CIP funding totaling $18,568 for local five businesses (report). The grants are supporting improvements to façades and signage, with a total project value of $63,080.
Approved 2022 CIP grants:
- Angels Daycares (Arva) for façade and signage improvements (municipal contribution of $5,000)
- BJ’s Country Market for façade and signage improvements (municipal contribution of $5,000)
- Fringe Hair Spa Inc. for façade and signage improvements (municipal contribution of $1,425)
- Ilderton Barber Shop for façade and signage improvements (municipal contribution of $2,142.50)
- Floral Temptations for façade and signage improvements (municipal contribution of $5,000)
2021 Grants: At their meeting on April 28, 2021, Council approved CIP funding totaling $29,479 for local eight businesses (report). Most of the grants are supporting improvements to façades and signage, with a total project value of $109,612.