County approves development charges bylaw; two opposed

Wellington County has a new development charges bylaw, but two mayors from northern municipalities op­posed the increase at county council Jan. 31.
The proposal for the devel­opment fees is:
– $2,170 for single and semi-detached homes;
– $1,178 for apartments two bedrooms or more;
– $849 for bachelor and one-bedroom apartments; and
– $1,568 for multiple dwel­lings.
The bone of con­tention for Wellington North Mayor Mike Broomhead and Minto Mayor David An­derson was the $1.51 per square foot for commercial and industrial buildings.
Development charges are used to offset costs of new development, and include factors such as police, roads, lib­raries, administration, ambu­lance, childcare, Pro­vincial Offences Act, the Health Unit and social services.
Broomhead said because his municipality borders places that have no such fees, Well­ington North is at a disad­van­tage when it comes to at­trac­ting business and industry.
“When you get to the peri­meter, all you have to do is cross the road and build what you want at no cost,” he said. “It makes the local muni­ci­pality back off.”
Recently, Minto dropped its development charges by 33% to cover the increase by the county. Broomhead admitted councils in the north are look­ing at dropping their develop­ment charges. “It’s gets trickier when you get farther up,” he said of attracting business.
But councillor Rod Finnie, who is mayor of Erin, disa­greed.
“Right now, all our neigh­bouring municipalities have development charges – but we don’t get the industry,” he said, adding that development char­g­es are “critical to devel­op­ing infrastructure.”
He added that some busi­ness people he has spoken with have stated they would rather pay “up front” than have to en­dure years of tax hikes to make up for a lack of development fees.
Usually, when a munici­pal­ity cancels or reduces its de­velopment fees, it is the resi­dential component that has to make up for it on the tax bill.
Finnie said, “Development charges do not pay the total costs of all development. A lot of the burden falls on the taxpayer.”
Broomhead said what he does not like to see is the local municipalities lowering their fees to make up for what the county is charging. He said that is akin to “downloading” onto the lower tiers.
He said he is not against development charges, but, “If anybody is going to lower the development charges, the coun­ty is better able to do it.”
Anderson, too, pointed out that in the north part of Well­ington, municipalities like Min­to are “not experiencing heavy industrial growth. It’s tough to compete against our neighbours. We’re trying to stay competitive.”
Councillor Brad Whit­combe argued that council had choices: to either accept the by­law, lose development charges altogether, or stay with the old bylaw.
Treasurer Craig Dyer said the old bylaw would run out at the end of September. He said, “There is a five year limit on development charges. If this is not replaced, we stop devel­opment charges on Oct. 1.”
Broomhead tried for a compromise, suggesting adop­ting half or two-thirds of the increase, or phasing in the in­crease.”
Council voted to ap­prove the charges, with only Ander­son and Broomhead opposed.