Petrolia OKs development fee study

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Petrolia Councillor Joel Field says it’s possible the town could bring in $11 million in development charges with the housing projects already on the table.

He was one of five municipal councillors who approved spending $29,500 on a development charges study – the first step in a year long process which could lead to the municipality charging developers a fee for every home they build.

In Sarnia, that fee can hit $35,000. Plympton-Wyoming charges around $11,000.

When the province gave municipalities the power to raise cash to fund the capital needs caused by growth in 1989, Petrolia resisted. Councillor Ross O’Hara said Monday the policy spurred development.

“We’ve always tried to work with developers…This is nothing short of a tax…It’s a tax on the developer that will be carried over to the person that buys the home.”

Field disagreed saying the development charges will save taxpayers money. The housing in the planning stages now will require more fire trucks, roads and improvements to the water systems. “I want to save the taxpayers money and I feel that some of this development needs to pay for that development,” says Field.

Councillor Liz Welsh agreed saying the municipality has control on how much development charges will be.

“Municipalities, as we know, have very few revenue generating tools beyond property taxation. And I think this is an opportunity for us to raise the necessary revenue to increase our infrastructure that’s coming now with our new developments.”

But O’Hara insisted adding a fee could slow housing development voting against hiring a consultant to complete the study. Mayor Brad Loosley also opposed it.

Field says other communities – such as Sarnia and Plympton-Wyoming – have a thriving housing market.

“Other municipalities are not collapsing. I don’t think we need to be the highest (development charge) I think we need to get the study done to understand what we don’t know right now.

“We’re making a lot of judgment calls without having the facts.”