Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Development Charges: Paying for Growth

Over the next few weeks you may be hearing a more about “Development Charges.” What’s that, you ask?

Under something called the Development Charges Act, the Province allows Municipalities to collect fees to help offset the “costs of growth.”

You see, new growth – residential, commercial, or industrial– applies additional pressures on municipal infrastructure. For example, new residential development areas often require additional water and waste water services. Or, if hundreds of new homes are built, new residents place pressures on roads and other Town services – everything from recreational services, to library usage, to fire protection. This “pressure” means additional costs to add trunk water lines, widen collector roads, or renovate or build new facilities.

Many years ago, an existing property tax-payer would have paid for additional municipal infrastructure and services that were required for new developments. Many felt that that lacked fairness, and that “new growth should pay for new growth.” On the other side of the argument, many felt that new growth should pay no more than its fair share.

Thus, a balance is sought where new growth should not create a financial burden on existing residents of the community while the existing residents should not enjoy a financial benefit at the expense of new residents.

The Town of Pelham has been setting and collecting development charges on development and re-development for some time. Development Charges were also previously known as Impost Fees or Capital Levies and have been in place at the majority of Ontario municipalities for several years. The current Development Charges by-law was adopted by Council on August 16, 2004 after an in-depth Development Charges Study conducted by an independent consultant. The by-law lasts for five years and is set to expire this August.

Some steps have already been taken to update the Town’s Development Charges by-law.

First, pursuant to the Development Charges Act, an independent consultant has prepared a Background Study – which was made publicly available on March 6.

Second, staff met with representatives of the development industry on March 9 regarding the Background Study and the proposed new by-law.

Third, a Public Meeting has been called for Monday, March 23 at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers of Pelham Town Hall to present and obtain public input on the Town’s proposed by-law and underlying background study.

If you are interested, please join us that evening. For more information please contact the Town Clerk at 905-892-2706 or at