The City of Sarnia recently adopted a new Community Improvement Plan (CIP), a CIP is a planning tool to support strategic community investment priorities. The CIP provides a framework for public investment opportunities in the public realm and the provision of incentive programs to assist the private sector to stimulate redevelopment and to facilitate property improvements. The Sarnia Community Improvement Plan applies to two areas: Downtown and Mitton Village.

For 2021, $100,000 has been allocated to the Community Improvement Incentive programs, applications will be reviewed as they are received until the funding limit has been met.

Click here to view a map of the Downtown and Mitton Village project areas.

Additional information on each of the private realm incentive programs available to the registered owner of lands within either of the Community Improvement Project Areas follows.

Financial Incentive Programs

Additional Residential Units Grant

Project Areas
This Program applies to all lands located within either of the Community Improvement Plan Areas.

Objectives
The objective of this program is to provide financial assistance to off-set the costs associated with creating new additional residential units.

Eligibility
Projects that are eligible under the program include the following:

  • Development, redevelopment, and/or renovations that creates new Additional Residential units
  • Servicing to an Additional Residential Unit located in an ancillary building (e.g. converted garage or gate house)
  • Works may include upgrades to meet identified deficiencies, such as Building Code and Fire Code

In addition to the eligible works above, the following applies:

  • The Additional Residential Unit is permitted within or on the same property as the existing single or semi-detached home or street townhouse
  • Additional Residential Units that avail of this incentive program are not permitted to be used as short-term rental accommodation such as “Airbnb” or similar

Program Incentives
The City will provide a grant of 25% of the costs of renovation to a maximum of $20,000 per property.

Duration
The duration of this project is subject to Council’s direction.

Building Façade Improvement Grant

Project Areas
This Program applies to all lands located within either of the Community Improvement Plan Areas.

Objectives
The objective of this program is to promote the rehabilitation, restoration and improvement of the facades of commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings (including retail storefront display areas and signage).

It is also the objective of this program to promote the maintenance and physical improvement of existing commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings in order to meet the current Building Code, improve aesthetic quality, and to provide safe and usable commercial, residential and mixed use space.

Eligibility
The following types of facade restoration and improvement works on commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings are considered eligible for a grant under this program:

  • Repair or replacement of storefront, including repair or replacement of storefront doors and windows
  • Repair or re-pointing of facade masonry and brickworkRepair or replacement of cornices, parapets, eaves and other architectural details
  • Repair or replacement of awnings or canopies
  • Facade painting and cleaning/treatments
  • Addition of new lighting/upgrading of existing fixtures on exterior facade and in entrance and storefront display areas
  • Installation/improvement of signage
  • Architectural/design fees required for eligible works
  • Other similar repairs/improvements as may be approved
  • Entrance modifications to provide barrier-free accessibility
  • Installation/upgrading of fire protection systems;
  • Repair/replacement of roof
  • Structural repairs to walls, ceilings, floors and foundations
  • Water/flood/weatherproofing
  • Repair/replacement of windows and doors
  • Extension/upgrading of plumbing and electrical services for the creation of retail, office or residential space
  • Installation/alteration of required window openings to residential spaces
  • Required improvements to heating and ventilation systems
  • Other similar repairs/improvements related to health and safety issues, as may be approved.

Program Incentives
The City will provide a matching grant of 50% of the cost of eligible storefront improvement and facade improvement and restoration works to commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings, up to a maximum grant per building of $10,000.

Duration
The duration of this project is subject to Council’s direction.

Landscape and Property Improvement Grant

Project Areas
This program applies to all lands located within the Mitton Village Area.

Objectives
The objective of this program is to encourage property owners to improve their properties through landscaping improvements, pedestrian connections, sidewalk cafes/patios and other improvements that can contribute to enhancing the public realm.

Eligibility
All commercial, institutional and mixed use properties are eligible for this grant program. The following costs are eligible under this program:

  • Professional landscaping and/or installation of alternative ground cover treatments
  • Re-sodding, provided it is a component of a larger landscaping improvement project (i.e., associated with other eligible projects in this program)
  • Installation or improvement of pedestrian walkways
  • Tree planting
  • Installation or improvement of a permanent sidewalk café or patio that is located at the edge of a sidewalk
  • Installation of benches or permanent planters
  • Services of a professional landscape architect to design the features noted above; or
  • Any combination of the above

Program Incentives
The maximum value of a grant shall be 50% of eligible costs and shall not exceed a maximum of $15,000.

Duration
The duration of this project is subject to Council’s direction.

Renovation Grant

Project Areas
This Program applies to all lands located within either of the Community Improvement Plan Areas.

Objectives
The objective of this program is to encourage the upgrading, rehabilitation, and redevelopment of commercial, mixed-use and residential buildings.

Eligibility
Eligible works under this program include the following items:

  • Installation of safety and fire protection systems such as carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, fire alarms, exit signs, etc
  • Installation of fire escapes
  • Installation of new or reinforcement of floors, ceilings and/or walls
  • Improvements to the electrical, ventilation, heating and plumbing supply systems
  • Improvements and installation of barrier-free accessibility upgrades and features to be in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
  • Construction or alteration of required window openings and windows for upper storey residential units
  • Installation of windows that provide access to the sidewalk
  • Construction of stairs, guard rails, and handrails
  • Improvements relating to Building Code upgrades
  • Energy and water efficiency upgrades and retrofits
  • The addition of new residential units

Program Incentives
The City will provide a grant of 25% of the costs of renovation to a maximum of $15,000 per property.

Duration
The duration of this project is subject to Council’s direction.

Sarnia City Council has also extended to the Planning and Building Fee Reduction program for an additional five years. The program provides up to a 50% reduction on Planning Application and Building Permit fees for eligible properties.

Planning & Building Fee Reduction Program

Project Areas
This Program applies to all lands located within either of the Community Improvement Plan Areas.

Objectives
To incent and encourage investment and redevelopment within the Downtown and Mitton Village Community Improvement Project Areas.

Program Incentives
The City will provide up to a 50% reduction to Planning Application and Building Permit costs.

Duration
The program has been approved to run through December 31, 2026.

This section outlines the general application process for financial incentive programs available under this CIP. The City, at its sole discretion, may indicate or require additional processes through specific Program Guideline.

1. Pre-Application Consultation

Prior to submission of an application, please arrange for a pre-application consultation with staff to discuss and confirm program eligibility, application requirements including supporting documents, proposed scope of work, cost and project timing.

General requirements for programs include:

  • The applicants must be the registered owner of the land for which the application is being made or an agent authorized by the registered owner.
  • All City of Sarnia realty taxes must be paid in full prior to the grant being issued.
  • An applicant may apply for more than one CIP grant program. An application for each program is required.
  • To be eligible for assistance, the property must be located within one of the Community Improvement Plan Areas.
  • Prior to disbursements of funds for any incentive, the City shall confirm that all the requirements of the particular program have been met.
  • Improvements and activities to private property must not commence until an application has been approved in full by the City of Sarnia and an agreement has been executed by both the registered owner and and the City. Retroactivity for improvements made prior to the approval of a CIP application are not permitted.

2. Application Submission

Submit a complete application, which includes all the required forms and supporting documentation as required by the City. Supporting documentation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Site plan and/or professional design study/architectural drawings
  • Specification of the proposed works, including a work plan for the improvements and construction drawings
  • At least two cost estimates for eligible work provided by licensed contractors or consultants, as appropriate in the context of the financial incentive program.

3. Application Review

Once required forms and documentation has been received, staff will undertake a review of the proposal and application. Based on the application and proposal, the results of the preliminary screening, staff may perform an initial site visit and inspection of the building/property, as necessary.

  • If the application meets the program requirements, the application will be accepted. By accepting an application for any of the financial incentive programs, the City does not guarantee program approval.
  • If the application clearly does not meet the program requirements, the application will not be accepted.

4. Application Decision

Once the application has been accepted and the review completed, staff will notify the applicant of the outcome of the application.

  • If the application is approved the applicant will be required to execute a Community Improvement Plan Grant Agreement with the City.
  • If an application is refused, the Applicant may re-submit the application for reconsideration, provided the applicant has made consideration of the reasons for refusal

5. Applicant Undertakes Work

Once an application has been approved and the required agreements signed and authorized, and once all the required approvals and permits for the work are secured, the applicant may commence community improvement works.

6. Grant Paid by City

Payment of the financial incentive will be provided upon successful completion of the approved works.

  • Prior to the issuance of the financial incentive, the applicant may be required to provide the City with final supporting documentation.
  • If required, the City may perform a final site visit and inspection of the building/property (as necessary) in order to ensure that the project has been completed in accordance with the Agreement.
  • If all the program requirements and Community Improvement Plan Grant Agreement requirements have been met to the City’s satisfaction the City will issue payment of the approved grant in accordance with the general and specific program eligibility requirement, and the Community Improvement Plan Grant Agreement.

Have you completed a Pre-Application Consultation with staff? Do you have all of the supporting documentation prepared, including a minimum of 2 detailed cost estimates from licensed contractors for work to be completed? Submit your application below.