LETTER:Council has right to slow down planning process

As an interested citizen, I try to keep up with what goes on at Shire Hall – but trying to follow what is being proposed for the development of Wellington has totally baffled me.

Briefly, Council is looking at the future development of Wellington – potentially increasing that village’s population by 300 per cent – an approximate population increase from 1,800 to over 6,000! Due to the changes in the Development Charges Act (thanks to the Mike Harris government) municipalities pay for a lot more, these changes help the developers far more than they ever helped towns or cities – local taxpayers take the hit.

These charges will hit Wellington taxpayers like a dead-on bomb strike. The bottom line here is the $100 million cost for an expanded water system to allow for this new development, is money we don’t have. And we haven’t even looked at the costs for roads, sidewalks, street lighting, parks and increased emergency services, etc. All of these costs too will be passed along to taxpayers. Municipal staff explains because both the Secondary Plan and Official Plan encourages future growth, the municipality is legally bound to make sure it happens.

Tell ya what? Let the developers sue us – force the issue and expose the damage inflicted onto local taxpayers due to poor provincial government policies. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for developers? The days of development paying for itself or helping to reduce the tax burden never existed. Life changes for all of us and why wouldn’t that apply to development plans and how they are paid for too? I can’t imagine any developer nor provincial government wanting the public exposure such a challenge would create.

It will force a much needed change. I believe our Council has every right to slow down the planning process. Due to the pandemic, none of our systems are working the way they should be. Online virtual Council and Committee meetings, without full public participation, are not good enough to make such important decisions for our community. If we look at the other legitimate concerns the citizens of Wellington and of PEC have expressed – the number of STAs, heavy traffic, the lack of parking, the loss of village life, tourism and the need for affordable housing, then this development makes even less sense.

Let’s be very clear, the developments being proposed for Wellington will not help address the need for affordable housing and make worse the other concerns mentioned. Only a large influx of upper-level government funding can provide the kind of affordable housing needed. No developer will build us a cheap house for young people just starting out – it is simply not in their business plan. What is being proposed for Wellington will destroy it!

Taking into account the County’s population has been decreasing and aging and our taxes are already high – just how much more can those living here afford?

When you step back and look at the full picture, now is not the time for this municipality to be downloading more onto their ratepayers. Are we building the County for those who live here now or for the new people yet to come? If it’s for both, the current system must change making the new arrivals pay their own way.

Until that happens, we would be crazy to move forward with any major development – The County just can’t do it and Queen’s Park needs to know this now!

Dennis Fox