Development fees go into effect in Petrolia in August

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Earth moving by a bulldozer in the construction of a road in Spain.

New residential developments in Petrolia will be paying up to $10,000 in fees for future growth.

In a 5 to 2 vote, council approved the controversial Development Charges bylaw Tuesday.

The town has debated for a number of years whether developers should pay fees to help pay for capital projects needed because of the growth caused by development. Many Lambton County municipalities have the fees including Sarnia, where the charges can be over $30,000 for a single family home.

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 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 and developers were concerned about the fees.

So, the town’s CAO, Rick Charlebois, took another look and in a report to council in early February 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.

Feb. 20, as the fees came to council for a vote, there was still concern. Developer Bob Leaper – a long
time opponent of the fees – says potential homeowners are surprised by Petrolia’s move.

“The people I deal with when I’m talking to new homeowners and I tell him about this charge, they can’t believe it. Most don’t know about it,” he said. “There’s very few people that object to this, because you’re not aware of it; except for somebody
building a house, who cares?”

Leaper added that just because you can (impose development charges) doesn’t mean you should.”

Councillor Ross O’Hara echoed his concerns saying it is “bad timing” when the market is slow.

O’Hara tried to get council to hold off on the fees until 2025, a motion which was turned down.

Councillor Liz Welsh was one of the five in favour of development charges.

“We’re building long term infrastructure for the residents of Petrolia that will outlast all of us,”
she said of the projects which will be funded through the fees.

“We do have to serve all the residents of Petrolia – all of them – now in the future be able to make long term plans. DC (development charges) stabilize the tax rate. They stabilize water and
wastewater rates. And they are an essential part of our asset management plan.”

Mayor Brad Loosley also voted in favour of the fees, which will go into effect in August. “I’ve been against development charges…for years and believe it has helped encourage development in
Petrolia.

“However, I feel that the taxpayer should not have to pay the full cost due to development, which should be shared by both the town and developers.

Loosley added; “I feel with the reduced development fees that now is the time to start. I also could only support the bylaw provided it gave developer’s fair notice, up until at least August the first 2024 to go into effect.”