Consultation top of mind as council receives development charges study

Councillors take in a presentation from Andrew Grunda of Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. regarding the development charges background study. Councillors directed staff to ensure there was adequate consultation with a range of stakeholders. (Chad Ibbotson/Gazette staff)




After receiving a background study last week, councillors wanted to ensure there will be plenty of consultation leading up to approval of an updated development charges bylaw.

Staff had planned to release the development charges background study to the public before presenting the proposed changes to stakeholders in the development sector on Dec. 14. A statutory public meeting would then be held before the development charges returned to council to consider any amendments. Council must wait at least 60 days after the development charges background study is available to the public to consider passage of the bylaw and the new bylaw must be in place by March 6, 2018.

At last Thursday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, councillors directed staff to augment that plan by hosting an additional consultation with stakeholders in the agribusiness and affordable housing sector.

Councillor Bill Roberts brought forward the suggestion of reaching out to agribusiness and affordable housing stakeholders in addition to developers.

“I’m personally not happy with them being thrown into ‘oh, we’ll just deal with them at the public meeting’ — there are big implications,” he said. “I would be happier if, in addition to your warm embrace of developers, you look at embracing — on a proactive basis — some of the other stakeholders in affordable housing, agriculture, agribusiness, before it comes back to council.”

Community development director Neil Carbone suggested the additional consultation would be a positive step to take.

“There are a lot of different challenges the community faces right now, which have interests on both sides,” he said. “You’d be sending a very important and positive message by saying you’re going to communicate with groups that are not just developers separately and accept that input in your deliberations.”

The discussion followed a presentation from Andrew Grunda of Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. who outlined the background study for councillors. He said the purpose development charges is to recover capital costs associated with residential and non-residential growth in the municipality.

The background study anticipates about 150 residential building units would be constructed in the municipality per year, both seasonal and permanent and in rural and urban areas. Over the next 20 years the study anticipates an increase in the net population of Prince Edward County of 7,128 people. Over that same period it’s expected an additional 1,244 jobs would be created, requiring about 852,400 square feet of construction space to facilitate that employment growth.

“We are looking at growth-related capital costs, so that growth forecast sets the framework for the entire exercise,” Grunda said.

He said one of the major differences in the 2013 bylaw and the proposed 2018 bylaw is the forecast of seasonal unit growth. The background study anticipates seasonal unit growth of 1,270 units compared with 377 units anticipated in the 2013 bylaw.

The study says the municipality has anticipated gross capital needs of $69.6 million with about $19.6 million or 28 per cent being recoverable through development charges. Of that, about $11.9 million or 61 per cent can be attributed to transportation, while $3.2 million or 17 per cent is attributed to fire protection. Gross capital costs increased by $17.4 million or 33 per cent compared to the 2013 development charges background study, with a $7.4-million increase in the amount recoverable through development charges.

The background study recommends cancelling the 50 per cent reduction of development charges in serviced areas by Dec. 31, 2018. The study says the municipality has foregone about $1.2 million in development charge revenue from 2013 to 2017 as a result of the policy.

For a residential single detached home with greater than two bedrooms the current development charge is $6,543. With the 50 per cent reduction that’s $3,272. The proposed 2018 bylaw would move the charge to $6,686.

The development charge bylaw must be updated every five years and the County’s bylaw is set to expire next March.