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Guelph-Eramosa approves 650% increase to residential parkland dedication fees

by Jaime Myslik

BRUCEDALE - Residential developers in Guelph-Eramosa Township will now have to pay $6,500 more in parkland dedication fees.

Prior to March, the township was charging parkland dedication fees of $500 for new housing units, as set out in a bylaw from 2002. In March that fee was upped to $1,000.

However, MHBC planning consultants Trevor Hawkins and Dan Currie have been working with township parks and recreation director Robin Milne to come up with a new bylaw.

Presented to council on Dec. 18, the new bylaw raises the fee in lieu of parkland to $7,500.

“Really the purpose for exploring the parkland dedication bylaw was to update the fee for lot creation to ... reflect ...  the main values for the township at this point, but also to consider broadening the scope just beyond residential development,” Currie said.

Under the new bylaw, residential developers creating new lots will be asked to contribute five per cent of land area to the municipality for parkland.

However, the municipality can instead ask for cash-in-lieu amounting to $7,500 per unit or the property owner can conduct an appraisal of the property and determine the cash equivalent that would equal 5% of the land area.

“It’s based on recent appraisals that the township has undertaken in a few different areas of the municipality,” Currie said. “As well as looking at, what are the neighbours doing?”

The parkland dedication would only be required when units are added to a residential lot.

“In a residential build where you have someone who intensifies the land so there may have been one house there for 50 or 60 years, they buy it and demolish it and build eight townhouse units,” Hawkins said. “So you would give them credit for the unit that they already had but you would charge them for the additional units.”

Currie said not many municipalities have a flat cash-in-lieu fee.

“It costs about three to five thousand for an appraisal, so in many situations in the township we’re creating one or two lots and it’s a bit onerous to ask folks then to do a three to five thousand dollar appraisal,” he said, adding 5% of most township lots will be worth about $7,500 at the present time anyway. “(It) saves them from having to go through that process.”

Currie also proposed a new section in the parkland dedication bylaw involving commercial and industrial development.

“The planning act permits up to 2% of the land be conveyed as parkland or the cash in lieu equivalent to that 2% has been built into the bylaw,” Currie said.

In the old bylaw, commercial and industrial developers were not required to make any contribution to parkland.

Mayor Chris White said asked about charging industrial and commercial developers under the parkland dedication bylaw.

“We have no development charges on purpose to make sure we’re competitive because there’s no sewer, water, and I’m just airing this out,” he said.

“I can understand parkland for homes ... commercial/industrial uses ... I just don’t know if that’s going to be a deterrent to someone wanting to locate here.”

Currie said it’s common practice in other municipalities. However, he also said council could offer exemptions under the parkland dedication bylaw in any situation.

Councillor David Wolk said he thought commercial and industrial developments should be paying more than 2% of their land value into the parkland fund.

“All I’m saying is if we’re going to go down that road, I think that we could do better than two per cent,” Wolk said.

However, the 2% charge is the maximum laid out in the planning act.

“It’s not designed to be punitive, it’s only designed to capture what the increase usage of parks etc. would be through new development,” Currie said.

Councillor Mark Bouwmeester asked for a definition of the difference between parkland dedication fees and development charges.

“It’s earmarked then for provision of park land and then you guys put it in an account to be used for parkland and recreation facilities,” Currie said.

White added the parkland funds could also go towards improving an existing facility.     

“It’s cash to use however you see fit in a recreational sense,” he said.

“Development charges are also fairly prescribed. They go to specific items. So it is another charge to a developer, but now this one’s for parks as opposed to roads.”

Council passed the new parkland dedication bylaw on Dec. 18.

It now applies to all new development applications brought to council.

 

December 29, 2017

 
 

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