At today’s Committee of the Whole meeting the first step was taken that could eventually see development fees relaxed for property owners who may wish to upgrade their buildings and turn them into livable spaces.
Mayor Andy Letham presented a memo to Council requesting that the Task Force currently reviewing development charges consider the following issues when writing a new by-law for January 2020:
- The effectiveness of current payment deferral options for residential developments
- Affordable housing incentive options for private sector development
- Consider discounting commercial and industrial development charges (from 50% to 100%) where job creation goals are met
- Focus on projects that support growth while contributing to development charges and defer projects that are population-serving if necessary
- Review development charges on derelict buildings to encourage demolition and protect development rights
- Study the merits of charging development charges within the property’s existing zoning
- Create a long-term development charges plan that affordably funds growth-related projects without relying on deficit funding to meet projected growth
The Advocate recently drew attention to this issue in its current print edition, which featured an interview with property owner Steve Podolsky, who owns 20-plus buildings in the downtown Lindsay core.
“We continue to invest heavily in growth projects and have for over a decade,” Letham says. “We have the foundation for growth. This Task Force will help us to determine whether or not we should look at further incentives to jump-start new projects.”
Letham’s memo states, “the focus of this Council term needs to be jobs and attainable housing for young, working families. Our residential growth is moving forward with success. That growth needs to be matched with commercial and industrial expansion to have an impact on our tax, water and waste water rates. Council has spent the last four years putting all of the pieces in place: the right staffing levels and the right investment in our capacity to realize growth. Our goal should be to expand the tax base so that we lessen the burden for young families and existing business.”
The Task Force will explore the issues and work with a consultant to bring back recommendations to Council through staff this fall.