Development fee in Petrolia could be $13k per home

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A consultant is suggesting Petrolia could charge up to $13,846 in development charges on new
homes.

Lisa Courtney of BM Ross outlined the findings of her report council commissioned last year. Courtney says develop- ment charges help pay for the capital projects required because of the increase in population which comes with new homes.

As part of the study, Courtney worked with town staff to determine about $11.5 million in capital projects – everything from a new fire pumper/tanker truck worth $1.5 million, to a $200,000 walking trail under Petrolia Line at Bridgeview Park to a $350,000 Wheeled Sport Park to $1.5 million in new playground equipment would be need over the next ten years.

About $7.18 million could be recovered from development fees.

“The growth percentage of the population in 20 years is 10 per cent…For other items like the fire trucks, typically, you’re buying a new fire truck for new growth, but it does have some benefit and it’s kind of based on what we think is a fair reason- able split. There’s no hard num- ber to it, but it’s reasonable,” Courtney says.

The study also points out three vacant areas slated for development would need water main expansions, extensions or sewage and sewers. They’d be subject to a higher fee which would reach $13,846 for each single family home developed. Multi-unit homes would face lower fees per unit.

While many municipalities in the area have development fees, Petrolia council has been split on the issue for a number of years. Monday, Councillor Ross O’Hara again voiced his opposition.

“I have a problem with the fact that we’re being told by the province to build affordable housing…(this) makes it more expensive because if you’re going to add $13,000 to build a house, the developer is not going to reach into his pocket and say ‘Oh I’ll pick it up.’ It’s going to go right on the price of that house,” he said.

“The counter argument to that is if you don’t have growth pay for growth, your existing taxpayers have to pay for that and that affects the affordability through taxation,” says Courtney.

Councillor Chad Hyatt questioned whether there was really a need for some of the capital items including $1.5 million in parks equipment. Courtney said council could reduce those amounts – and by extension the cost of the development fees before passing a bylaw.

Members of the public also weighed in. Developer Bob Leaper is against charging the fee.
He says developers already foot a large cost. “We do pay for all our own costs, even lawyers fees
for the town, engineering review fees, stop signs, everything.”

Former Town Councillor Wade Deighton said “This bureaucratic money grab is nothing more than a red tape overstep.”

Terry Blackmore is also opposed but was also concerned about the wording of the proposed bylaw which appeared to mean developers would have to pay all the fees for each house planned for a development, even if they only planned to build one home at a time. Blackmore asked coun- cil to work with the developers voicing concerns now, before the bylaw is put in place.

There were also supporters for the fees. “I’ve seen no reason for current taxpayers to fund someone else’s infrastructure,” said Sherry Hamilton. “Current taxpayers do not help a new homeowner pay their land transfer tax. Current taxpayers do not help new home acquisition individuals pay the real estate commission’s so why should a current taxpayer have their tax rate increased for the sole purpose of installing infrastructure that benefits those new home units?”

Clerk Mandi Pearson said the issue is slated to return to council in February.