Proposed developer charges spark debate
At the prompting of Mayor Rob Adams, Orangeville Council’s Economic Development Committee has been asked to organize a workshop to deal with a planned increase in fees for development and building applications.
A consultant’s report, issued through town treasurer Bill McKennan, was the subject of a public meeting last week, at which area builders expressed concerns about proposed hikes that would see building permit fees on a single family rise $250; zoning amendment fees jump to $12,600 from $6,300 and subdivision planning fees go to $46,000 from $12,800.
Greater Dufferin Homebuilders Association president Henry Jansen said that under the planned fee structure, the costs “would be a lot for some of our developers to swallow as one big pill.”
The reasoning behind the increases is that the town is in catch-up mode, since it hasn’t increased these fees in five years, while administration costs have increased.
As well, the town has subsidized the building application review process through general tax revenues to the tune of about 71 per cent for development applications and between 16% and 43% for building permits.
Under the provincial Planning Act, a municipality can charge fees for the anticipated full costs in providing a service.
The consultant has set out proposed fees that are meant to cover the full cost to the Town of processing each application.
A goal is to replenish the building permit reserve fund, currently in a deficit of $3,943, to a point where it has a balance of $470,000 by 2016, which the report contends would be “enough to cope with one year of low permit volume.”
The builders at the meeting appeared to understand the need for such increases, but suggested that increased costs should be phased in.
Mr. McKennan said, in an interview, that there is still room for negotiation. “The issue is how we get a fair and equitable mechanism in place” for implementing and collecting fees.
John Welton of Sunvale Homes offered up the opinion that, if these types of planning fees are being considered, they need to be structured so a deposit is paid, but the full fee is not payable until plans are approved.
In drawing comparisons with other Ontario municipalities, the consultant’s report said current development application fees in Orangeville fall into the mid-range of fee rates levied in Dufferin County, but are well below fees of similar-sized municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area.
The report went on to calculate that the new rates, if adopted, would remain competitive with municipalities such as Newmarket, Halton Hills, Caledon and New Tecumseth.
The point was raised, however, that such comparisons could be somewhat inaccurate since the comparisons in the reports do not fully take into account different fee structures, different levels of service, and that other fees may not be the full cost.
There were points both sides agreed on, particularly where it was decided that permit fees should be calculated on the physical area of a project, rather than on its value.
Mayor Adams suggested that it would be appropriate to defer the matter, and that the Economic Development Committee be asked to spearhead a workshop, with invitations being issued to the Greater Dufferin Area Homebuilders’ Association and the Greater Dufferin Area Chamber of Commerce, and that the comments received be reported to Council.