Town introduces pre-consultation agreements for developers

MINTO – Potential developers here will be required to enter an agreement with the municipality in order to avoid leaving taxpayers on the hook for consultant fees on projects that don’t go forward.

At the Dec. 17 meeting, Minto council approved a recommendation from chief building official Terry Kuipers to make the pre-consultation agreements part of the development process.

When a development proposal comes forward, typically it comes forward at a staff level, explained Kuipers in a written report.

“Once initial discussions have taken place, and depending on the complexity of the proposal, many times our consultants are being utilized to ensure proper development occurs, and that the town’s interests are covered. Historically, the costs of our consultants have been covered solely by the town and then recovered once the project reaches an agreement stage, for development, servicing or a subdivision,” the report states.

Due to increased interest in the area by developers  more projects are coming forward in recent years, the report continues.

“In certain instances, these projects can be more complex, or the development costs higher than the proponent anticipated, and they never reach the agreement stage. Up to this point, the town has had no method of collecting what our external costs are, leaving the external costs to be paid out of the general tax levy.”

Kuipers said staff have found most adjacent municipalities have pre-consultation agreements in place with developers that cover them in case a project doesn’t reach the agreement phase.

The CBO said such agreements:

– ensure the proponent is serious about pursuing their proposal;

– encourage the proponent is to consult with their professional agents prior to bringing a very preliminary proposal forward to town consultants; and

– allows the town to recoup external costs for projects that do not proceed.

Kuipers stressed that only “external” costs would be recovered through the agreement.

“We’re not trying to discourage anyone from speaking to staff. That’s why it kicks in when it’s external, when we actually get a bill,” he told council.

In 2019, Kuipers noted, the town will spend around $10,000 on external costs related to projects which won’t go forward.

“It’s not a huge amount, but at the same time, it’s an amount,” he said.

Deputy mayor Dave Turton asked which area municipalities use similar agreements.

“There are a few around. We’re not the only ones,” replied Kuipers, who pointed out the proposed agreement is based on one used in Centre Wellington.

Council approved the adoption of pre-consultation agreements with development proponents, requiring them to submit a $5,000 deposit which will be held until securities under the terms of an agreement have been collected by the municipality, or in cases that a project does not proceed, until the town’s costs have been covered.