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Vacant Lot & Adaptive Reuse Strategy

Vacant Lot & Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program

Vacant Lot & Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program

The Vacant Lot & Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program is designed to encourage development on existing vacant or brownfield sites, and the reuse of vacant buildings in established areas of the city, including the Downtown, by providing financial and/or tax based incentives to owners of eligible properties.

Under the Vacant Lot & Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program, a Maximum Incentive Amount will be equivalent to the increment between the existing property taxes (city portion) and the taxes paid upon completion, multiplied by five years.

The amount of the final grant is determined through an evaluation system, based on points linked to policy objectives identified in the City's Official Community Plan and Downtown Plan. The points are used to determine what percentage of the total Maximum Incentive Amount may be available to the applicant. Under the Program, applicants are given a choice of a five-year tax abatement, or a grant. 

The system is based on points out of 100. For instance, a score of 60 points earns 60% payout (upon completion) of the Maximum Incentive Amount. See the Maximum Incentive Grant Amount Example below: 

  Grant/Tax Abatement Calculation
Tax Increment (City portion) $10,000 x 5 years
Maximum Incentive Amount
Points (based on proposal evaluation)
$50,000 x 60/100
Incentive Amount $30,000
(paid on project completion)

To qualify under the incentive program, applicants will need to submit an application and a full development proposal for an existing vacant or brownfield site, or an adaptive reuse project that is within the area shown on the map below:

Vacant Lot Established Neighbourhoods Map

Vacant Lot Garden Incentive

At the June 27, 2016 meeting of City Council, an amendment to the VLAR Incentive Program Policy was approved to allow for gardening on vacant lots as an interim use. The program has been designed to promote urban agriculture as well as address the aesthetic and safety issues of vacant lots. The establishment of a garden on a vacant lot will not affect the opportunity for future incentives under the VLAR Program when the lot becomes developed.

To earn the incentive, applicants must convert a minimum of 50% or 100 m2 of a vacant lot, whichever is smaller, into a garden and maintain the site in a safe and orderly manner. All noxious weeds must be controlled, and the garden must not generate odour, dust, drainage impacts, or noise that may impact neighbouring properties or the right of way.

The incentive is an annual grant for the property owner equal to 50% of municipal land tax, for up to five years. A written agreement is required between the property owner and gardener(s) if they are not one and the same, to indicate that there is an arrangement in place to permit a garden to operate on the vacant lot.

Vacant Lot Inventory 

As part of the Vacant Lot & Adaptive Reuse Strategy, the City of Saskatoon maintains a comprehensive inventory of undeveloped land, which also includes surface parking lots. All lands that fall into these "undeveloped" categories are considered vacant. 

The inventory includes the following information about vacant sites:

  • Civic Address 
  • Site Area 
  • Neighbourhood 
  • Zoning Designation 
  • Legal Land Description

The inventory is limited only to established neighbourhoods (infill sites only), and excludes any sites that are considered to be undevelopable (e.g. walkways, right-of-ways, and other residual parcels). The inventory also excludes all ownership information. This is to ensure compliance with federal and provincial privacy legislation. 

The public Vacant Lot Inventory is regularly updated following the internal update of the property use information as part of the property assessment cycle.

Please note that the Vacant Lot Inventory comes with the following disclaimer:

The City of Saskatoon provides the following records for reference only. It is not intended as a list of properties for sale or as a development opportunity. Using available records at the time, the sites are assumed to have no permanent structures on them and the site may or may not be available or suitable for re-development purposes.

Not all properties listed here have necessarily been vacant for the 48 consecutive months required to be eligible for the Vacant Lot and Adaptive Re-Use Incentive Program.  While this inventory is provided as a reference for all vacant infill sites, properties that are actually eligible for incentives will vary.  Contact the Neighbourhood Planning Section at 975-7642 to confirm how long a property has been vacant.

Brownfield Redevelopment

To encourage the adaptive reuse of brownfield sites within the city, and to educate owners on the issues as well as the benefits of brownfield redevelopment, the City developed  Redeveloping Brownfields in Saskatoon: A Guidebook

The Guidebook provides general information about brownfield legislation, environmental assessment and remediation, challenges that may present themselves and how to overcome them. It also illustrates successful brownfield redevelopment projects that have been undertaken in Saskatoon.

The redevelopment of brownfield sites results in numerous benefits to municipalities, citizens and the developers who take on these projects. Increased tax revenue, improved environmental condition, economic opportunities, job creation and revitalized neighbourhoods are just some of the benefits that are realized by brownfield redevelopment. However, challenges often present themselves to brownfield redevelopment and can include difficulty obtaining financing, liability concerns, regulatory requirements, and the perception and stigma associated with brownfield sites.