County to explore development charges
By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County will have a study conducted, looking at the institution of development charges in the community.
As a staff report from county planner Charlsey White explains, “Development charges are one-time fees imposed by municipalities on land developers, home builders and institutions when they develop or build upon an area of land. The fees are intended to offset the cost of increased municipal services and infrastructure required due to population growth within the municipality resulting from new development. A development charge may be imposed across all or only part of the municipality and more than one development charge bylaw can apply to an area.”
In Haliburton County, for example, the upper tier of the county could institute development charges, as well as each of its lower-tier governments. Currently, development charges do not exist within Haliburton County, or any of its four lower tiers, although they have become widespread in many Ontario municipalities.
“We are one of the few that doesn’t have them, anymore,” Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said during an April 24 county council meeting.
“Before you can even move forward with them, you have to do a development charges study,” White explained.
County council included $50,000 for such a study in the 2019 budget, and council will release a request for proposals for the completion of the study. A bylaw establishing development charges must be passed within one year of the study being completed. A statutory public meeting on their establishment must also take place.
Development charge amounts vary widely depending on the size of a community. While in downtown Toronto, for example, development charges for residential development may be as much as $100,000, in smaller communities, they are much, much less.
There are stipulations around what development charges can be used for, and municipalities earmark what those specific purposes will be.
“This is to cover growth-related costs, only,” chief administrative officer Mike Rutter said, explaining the idea is to offset increased servicing costs related to a development. For example, that could be for increased water or sewer services, or a new fire hall required because of population growth, or new parks required for more residents.
Rutter said development charges also make costs clear to developers up front. As the new Home Hardware store got under construction in Halibuton Village, for example, it was determined a new turning lane would be required, and the county and developer ended up sharing the cost for that turning lane, around which they negotiated.
“A development charge makes that certain ... they know what they’ve got to pay,” Rutter said.
Some councillors seemed supportive.
“Times have changed ... landfills cost more, ambulances cost more,” said Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts.
Moffatt thought the county could see some resistance to the concept.
“I think the majority of people think they don’t get any services for their taxes now, so I imagine this will be contentious,” she said.