City rescinds some developer perks to get money upfront

By Kirk Winter

Fees paid by developers are substantial. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Faced with a pressing need for significant critical infrastructure capital to ready the city for years of unprecedented growth, Kawartha Lakes council voted to rescind the Development Charges Assistance Policy (DCAP). This policy allowed developers to pay their development charges to the city over a three-year time period rather than all monies due when the building permit is issued.

Mayor Doug Elmslie and CAO Ron Taylor asked council to rescind the four-year-old policy, passed in 2019, because the city needs the money now to build the infrastructure that will allow for 6,500 new homes to be built in the city by 2031 as part of Bill 23.

Development charges are fees collected from developers, at the time of a building permit being issued, to help pay for the cost of infrastructure required to provide municipal services to that new build. In 2019, Kawartha Lakes identified those municipal services at least partially funded by development charges as the airport, bylaw enforcement, parking, parks and recreation, library, administrative studies, fire, paramedic, police, transit, waste diversion, roads, water treatment, water distribution, wastewater treatment and wastewater collection.

These fees paid by developers are substantial. In 2019, when the DCAP was passed, the city collected more than $25,000 for every new build in Lindsay and a little more than $8,000 for every rural build in the city. The reason for the charge discrepancy between Lindsay and rural areas reflects the difference in services the city has to provide for a new home in each location.

Taylor told council that the DCAP was a good policy when passed and assisted many smaller developers in bringing their projects to fruition. Unfortunately, the city can no longer afford the deferral of development costs, as “money for growth is needed when the growth is occurring.”

“We need to invest back now (in infrastructure),” Taylor said, “or it becomes a burden on our books.”

Taylor told council that one of the necessary projects that significant funds will be needed for is another expansion of the Lindsay water/wastewater treatment system.  In an answer to a question, Taylor told Councillor Eric Smeaton that thousands of new homes in Lindsay will put the current water system over-capacity and that expansion of capacity is going to have to be fast-tracked to accommodate Lindsay’s new subdivisions.

Deputy-mayor Tracy Richardson was supportive of the change in the DCAP, suggesting it would be wise to make the change regarding how development fees are collected now. Richardson hoped that by eliminating the three-year repayment option, the city will receive “payment upfront so that infrastructure is built in a timely manner.”

Councillor Ron Ashmore wanted to know from Taylor if before the city moves forward with building the 6,500 homes decreed in Bill 23, will the city clear up the backlog of builds waiting for the green light from the city. Ashmore said that there were some projects that had been waiting for city approval since 2011.

“I hope that the lingering ones (build approvals) can be resolved by 2024,” Taylor said.

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