Welten wants development fee study started now

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Petrolia Councillor Don Welten wants to move forward with development charges.

He’s going to ask council to consider approving a $27,500 study which would help the town implement legislation which would see development pay for the costs of the effects of development in town.

Petrolia, unlike the majority of municipalities in Ontario, does not charge development fees. Council in the past decided against the move as a way to bring developers to build in Petrolia.
But with the latest housing boom, there have been calls to rethink the past strategy.

Development charges are a set fee based on the type of housing being built. Developers pay the fee to pay for new infrastructure which will be needed in the future because of the development.

For example, when new homes are built, municipalities often put parks in the community, including equipment which costs money to buy and maintain; development fees can help pay that cost instead of existing taxpayers.

In November, council heard from consultant BM Ross and Associates about how the system worked and the formula to come up with fees. But councillors were not ready to spend cash to have the work complete.

At the time, Councillor Ross O’Hara noted there is a lot of development coming in the next year – about seven new developments according to staff.

O’Hara says he’s not “opposed totally” to development charges but now is not the right time to implement them.

“We have a lot of things on our books, a lot of developments that could happen, and I would rather look at this year-by-year and maybe next year down the road,” he told council.

Councillor Grant Purdy agreed, asking “Why do we need to spend that kind of money?” on a consultant at this time. The rest of council agreed putting the approval of the study at the feet of the new council.

But Welten gave notice at Monday’s meeting he thinks council should move ahead with the study now.

Welten, in his motion, says the study will take at least a year to complete before any council can take action.

And his motion reads “it is vital for the continued success and proper growth management of our Town to have these Development Charges in place to ensure that growth pays for growth.”

Council will discuss the issue July 11.