North Huron looks to increase development charges
BY DENNY SCOTT
Due to new and completed infrastructure projects over the last five years, North Huron Township Council will be considering some significant increases to its development charges next month.
Council will be holding a public meeting during its Sept. 7 meeting to review the changes, which could see developers looking at development charges increasing by nearly 50 per cent in some areas, though Lisa Courtney of B.M. Ross and Associates doesn’t think that will deter development in the housing-starved area.
Courtney started her presentation by covering what development charges are, highlighting the fact that they are used to pay for expanded new infrastructure necessary to provide services to new development.
She also highlighted the current development charges for single and semi-detached homes in Wingham ($5,104.38), Blyth ($2,563.56) and East Wawanosh ($1,651.26), noting that, when charges were last considered in 2016, the council of the day decided to cut Wingham development charges by reducing the amount paid for sanitary sewage. Courtney also noted that council decided against implementing non-residential development charges.
In 2016, there were six different development charges considered, including the $1.6 million Northwest Trunk Sewer replacement project in Wingham ($1.3 million of which was eligible for development charges), the $447,232 Blyth Well project ($33,653.90 eligible for development charges), the $2 million public works facility, $3,630 in firefighter outfitting, parkland development at $40,000 per acre and $264,150 in administration costs ($23,820.47 of which was eligible) including a number of growth-related studies.
The number of projects to be considered for 2021’s development charges bylaw has increased substantially since 2016, Courtney pointed out.
She highlighted six different municipality-wide services and projects, including the new public works facility in Blyth, an additional snow plow, parkland development, trail development, a multi-use court, daycare services and growth-related studies.
Projects specific to Wingham (and thus only charged on Wingham development) include the Northwest Trunk Sewer, Josephine Street infrastructure and the Wingham standpipe. Projects specific to Blyth include the ongoing fundraising for the well and main street infrastructure.
Hutton Heights would also be designated as a special project area, Courtney said, and would see charges for sanitary sewer services, the water main extension, road infrastructure and stormwater services.
Aside from Hutton Heights, East Wawanosh developments would only be charged on the municipality-wide projects detailed above.
As a result, the per-unit charges per single and semi-detached units are recommended to be $9,689 in Wingham, $9,550 in Blyth, $5,142 in East Wawanosh and $21,928 in Hutton Heights.
Multi-unit or townhouse charges per unit would be $6,056 in Wingham, $5,969 in Blyth, $3,214 in East Wawanosh and $13,705 in Hutton Heights with apartment costs being slightly lower in all areas.
Courtney also provided non-residential development charges in case North Huron Council wanted to change course from what the previous council had decided. In Wingham such developments would be charged $11.62 per square metre, while Blyth developments would be charged $8.90 per square metre. East Wawanosh development charges on non-residential projects would be charged $6.49 per square metre while Hutton Heights would see a charge of $7.24 per square metre.
While the increases were significant, Courtney said they weren’t out of line with some of North Huron’s neighbours, highlighting the single detached unit charges for several municipality and special service areas:
• Kincardine: $18,077
• Huron-Kinloss - Lucknow: $4,104
• Huron-Kinloss - Ripley: $4,499
• Huron-Kinloss - Ripley (Finlay Street): $58,247
• Goderich: $2,159
• South Huron - Exeter: $4,245
• North Perth: $13,569
• North Perth (plus water and wastewater): $19,278
• Bluewater - Bayfield: $9,450
• Bluewater - Hensall: $7,618
• Bluewater - Zurich: $8,592
Courtney explained the next steps would be to take feedback from council and revise the report before presenting it on Sept. 7.
While there were comments made about how increasing the development costs could scare away developers, both Courtney and Deputy-Reeve Trevor Seip said they didn’t feel that was necessarily true.
Courtney pointed out that, if someone could build and sell a detached unit for $350,000 (which she said was low for the area), the development charges would be less than 10 per cent of the cost.
Seip said he wished that council hadn’t cut the Wingham development charges five years ago as, given the housing crunch in Huron County, that extra $3,000 in Wingham would not have prevented potential development.
Seip pointed out that, if there was a concern with the development charges, local developers would likely attend the public meeting on Sept. 7. He said if they didn’t, the development charges obviously weren’t as concerning to them as council members may believe they are.
Council also debated the need for affordable housing, with members saying that any increase to cost, on top of the existing constraints created by increased building material prices, would be difficult to encourage developers to enter into that market.
Councillor Chris Palmer advised council against offering discounts in specific wards, however, saying actions like that are “a rabbit hole” council didn’t need to go down.
Courtney had pointed out, however, that council could offer discounts on development charges through a bylaw, and some council members did say that could be used as incentive.
Reeve Bernie Bailey asked if development charges could be levied against other municipalities benefitting from North Huron infrastructure and Courtney said that wasn’t possible under the provincial guidelines. Council could, however, charge a neighbouring municipality for a portion of applicable projects and, in turn, the neighbouring municipality could implement development charges to recoup those costs.
Council decided to proceed and have a draft bylaw based on Courtney’s presentation brought to its Sept. 7 council meeting. The bylaw won’t be voted on during the meeting, staff said, but will allow a chance for public feedback.