A public meeting on development charges will be held at the beginning of this evening's 7 p.m. Owen Sound council meeting.

During the 2018 municipal election campaign, a group of local residents with an obvious point of view concerning Development Charges asked the following question of all the candidates:

  • Owen Sound has eliminated development charges for larger housing and retail projects, money that is collected in other Ontario   cities to cover the costs of road, water and sewage infrastructure. Is this a necessary development incentive, or should it be studied with a view to ending such a worthless giveaway?

Here were the replies from those candidates who now sit on our council. Note:  They have corrected the detail that the Development Charge holiday (which lasted until March of this year, with some exemptions after that) applied only to residential development, not commercial.  This evening's meeting is your opportunity to have a say on the proposed futire development charge by-law.

Ian Boddy
Waiving residential development charges has been a very successful incentive. Development charges were waived on residential builds only, and not retail or commercial projects. In 2014 the City had one new house completed. In 2017 ninety-one permits for dwellings were issued. Total construction values increased 220% in 2017. The new tax assessment generated can be used to offset the waived charges, pay for infrastructure renewal, as well as help reduce tax increases.
There is a specific area development charge in place for the Sydenham Heights area to repay the City for the costs of the services installed in Sydenham Heights. Opening up those lands for development are vital to our ability to attract labour, jobs and more assessment.

Travis Dodd
In 2014 when this Council was first elected there was a feeling within the community that Owen Sound was not a developer friendly City and it was apparent by the number of new homes that were being built. I supported the development charge holiday to help entice builders to build homes in the infill locations throughout the City. No new roads, water and/or sewage infrastructure was needed for infill construction. Area specific regions like the Sydenham Heights (across from the Hospital) have still been required to contribute to development charges as these new services will be required throughout that new construction area.
Retail development was not included in the development charge holiday and has contributed to the development charges.
Owen Sound is in need of housing. Anything we can do as a City to help our residents fulfill this need I see as a positive, not a 'worthless giveaway'.

Brock Hamley
In other parts of the province DCs average $50,000. Developers pass this cost onto the home buyers inflating the cost of a new home. One of the things that is attractive about Owen Sound is the real estate prices. If we are to attract new development and grow our tax base, the cost of a new build needs to remain competitive. Eliminating DCs accomplishes this.

Marion Koepke
I do not believe that elimination of the development charge to this point has been a worthless giveaway. We have definitely seen some growth, even to the point of a further reduction in the property tax percentage. However, I do believe that we need to revisit the development charges reserve account to determine if continuation of this relief is in the best interest of the City.

Carol Merton
The current holiday on development charges requires evaluation to determine its effectiveness, not just on the number of houses built but on the cost to taxpayers and the benefits to the community. We need answers about what Owen Sound gained or lost by the development charge holiday. Do we need other development incentives intended to respond to our local housing needs?

Brian O'Leary
I fully supported a council initiative to waive residential development charges when this council updated the DC study in 2015. This has had tremendous results, with 91 new residential units in 2017 and a $415,000.00 increase in the assessment base, which lowers taxes for everyone! Development Charges were not waived for commercial, or other types of development. When council updates the bylaw in 2020, I will want to fully examine if we still need this incentive. We are still collecting development charges for all other forms of development. Our asset management plan helps prioritize capital spending, including water, sewer and transportation. We have tax supported capital spending and have maximized support from Federal and Provincial partners through a variety of grants like OCIF and also gas tax and grants that supported the WWTP upgrade and the 10th street bridge.

John Tamming
Generally, I am opposed to worthless giveaways (your query really does take leading questions to a new level!). To the extent they still exist, we should probably phase them out.

Richard Thomas
The development charge holiday was implemented in 2015 to stimulate new housing growth in Owen Sound. 10 residential building permits were issued in 2014; 91 permits, the highest number in 27 years, were issued in 2017. I would submit that the DC holiday is having the desired effect. Rather than a 'worthless giveaway' I view this as a purposeful investment in our future.
When council implemented the holiday, a companion motion was passed:
"THAT during the period of the Residential Development Charge holiday (2015-2016), municipal tax revenue from new construction be diverted to a capital reserve until such time as lost development charge revenue for hard services is recovered."
In essence, we delayed the effect of the new properties on the tax roll until the money that would have been collected for development charges was replaced. Therefore, the development charge account remains exactly as it would have been without the DC holiday, and the money in it continues to support growth oriented expenses for the City.
Retail development was not included in the DC holiday.
We are in desperate need of new housing in Owen Sound. If elected, I will be in favour of continuing the DC holiday. Owen Sound needs housing stock, and the DC holiday (along with the extension of services to Sydenham Heights) has created the environment in which development can flourish.




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