Petrolia scales back development charges proposal

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Petrolia may soften the blow of development charges.

In December, council received a report from BM Ross which said the town should begin to charge fees of nearly $14,000 for each single family home built as a way to pay for the services and capital items which will be needed when the population of the town increases.

As part of the study, BM Ross 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 needed over the next ten years. About $7.18 million could be recovered from development fees.

At the time, councillors were concerned about the fees.

So, the town’s CAO, Rick Charlebois, took another look and in a report to council Monday, suggested the fees be lowered by about 25 per cent.

That would mean developers building single family homes would pay between $7,827 and $10,415 per home, depending where the development is located and the extent of work that needs to be done to allow the development to occur.

Councillor Ross O’Hara reiterated his long standing opposition to the fees, suggesting when the issue returns to council Feb. 20, he’ll ask the issue be deferred for a full year, to see if the housing market begins to rebound.

Councillor Chad Hyatt voiced concern that in reducing the fees, town staff had removed some of the capital items the community had been asking for such as a bike park.

Meantime, Developer Louie Bratanek spoke to council about the fees. “Development charges are just another tax on the homebuyer, which is added to the cost of the house,” he said.

“Development charges increase the cost of housing and slows growth,” Bratanek said. “Instead of adding taxes on new homes Petrolia should fully focus on speeding up the development process so it doesn’t take so long getting the new houses built increasing the supply of new housing, which will also make houses in Petrolia more affordable.”