11/04/2013


On October 24 2013, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Linda Jeffrey released a consultation document on Development Charges (DC) in Ontario.

An invitation was sent to all municipal treasurers seeking their municipality’s interest in attending consultation sessions.  Municipal governments are requested to reply by Tuesday, November 5th to attend a consultation session. Alternatively, written submissions will be accepted up to January 10, 2014.

AMO, in every budget submission since 2008, has called for new DCA legislation and we encourage all municipal governments that currently use development charges or those that might in the future, to attend a session or make a written submission. Municipalities wishing to attend in person should reply to DCAConsultation@ontario.ca.

While municipal governments recognize the important role the development industry and housing plays in our communities, some key municipal issues regarding DCs should not be forgotten in the discussions. Highlights follow: 

 

  • In 1997 the new Act imposed significant restrictions on municipalities. These changes were dramatic. Initial estimates where some $550 million in growth related costs were shifted from developers to existing property taxpayers.
  • Plans for forward looking investments, like transit in cities, have been drawn up but not built.  Research on DCAs through the Provincial Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review (2008) identified over $1billion transit investment gap, not including the $2 billion annually required of Metrolinx’s Big Move transit proposals in the GTHA.  Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner released a Report in September 2013 seeking reforms to the DC Act.  Among the Commissioner’s findings: “Public transit is treated inequitably, despite the clear benefits it provides in addressing traffic congestion” and “statutory limitations were specifically identified as a key barrier for municipalities wishing to enhance their public transit system.”
  • The 2007 provincial-municipal research and resulting report identified specific action.  “Four priority areas… appear to be most inconsistent with the “growth pays for growth” principle.”  These areas are: ineligible services; the Mandatory “10% Discount” that must be applied to some services; the Service Level Calculation (10-year average service level); and the treatment of Grants, Subsidies and other Contributions under the Act.  Despite this comprehensive review, no legislative changes were made.
Several links on the right are included to help municipalities prepare.
  • PMFSDR Development Charges Report (2007)
  • Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner’s Report (September 2013)
  • Sustainable Prosperity’s Report “Suburban Sprawl: Exposing Hidden Costs, Identifying Innovations” October 2013
AMO’s key messages and considerations:
  • Growth must pay for growth. Development charges are important to ensuring tax equity among property taxpayers.  
  • Discounted development charges can drive up property taxes for all residents.
  • Delaying infrastructure investments does not eliminate the problem, but can exacerbate it more.
  • If we devalue the public services which support our homes we shortchange our communities and their long-term future.
AMO will be making a submission itself, working with the Municipal Finance Officers Association to the government, urging it  to consider the findings of the 2007 Development Charges Subgroup in its current deliberations.  

AMO encourages municipal governments to directly deliver their own messages to the province regarding the importance of DCs to your community’s well-being and how the current legislation impacts your community.