Development charges to build new homes are bound to increase in Wellesley Township, but by how much and when will be determined by the next council.
Meeting the day after the October 27 municipal election, the current councillors opted to defer the long-discussed matter to those who’ll be sworn-in next month. Only two of the current group, Herb Neher and Shelley Wagner, are returning. They’ll be joined by former councillor Joe Nowak, who won the mayor’s job, and newcomers Peter van der Maas and Carl Smit.
When the new council convenes, they’ll look at a recommendation to boost development charges – fees intended to cover future municipal expenditures related to growth – by up to 500 per cent. The levy for a single-family or semi-detached home could reach $7,666 from the current rate of $1,296, for instance.
Mayor Ross Kelterborn suggested the township phase in the increases over five years. Council approved a motion to defer the development charges bylaw and the scheduling of the increase to the new council. A hired consultant calculated the rates and presented them to council on October 6.
The maximum levy for row houses and multiples would be $5,686 and $4,125 for apartments. As in previous discussions of the fees, local builders expressed their concerns about the proposed increases.
Dan Lavigne of D. G. Lavigne Homes said they pay for the charges, and in the end it’s the homeowners who pay. He said he and his family moved here to get away from city life. Other families may decide not to do the same if the cost of building a home increases significantly.
“We realize that this is going to happen. It’s just to what extent and how it’s going to happen,” Lavigne said.
He said a good influx of people from the cities come into the township for two reasons. One is price, and the second is simplicity of life or peacefulness.
“When there’s a good amount of construction in town everybody benefits. We all know that,” Lavigne said. “The suppliers, the shops, the bars, the restaurants, everybody benefits. Will this affect that? Most likely.”
He said new construction will most definitely be affected if the increases come all at once, especially if it’s the maximum.
“Does it have to go up 490 per cent? No it does not,” Lavigne said.
Regulated by the province, development charges are established by a formula dividing forecasted capital costs by the projected population growth. Eligible costs include long-term expenses for indoor and outdoor recreation services, administration, road construction, public works, fire protection and water services.
Ron Stroh of Stroh Homes suggested they phase in the increase over three years, rather than all at once.
“If we could make it a little softer that would be appreciated,” Stroh said.
Development charges in Wellesley Township haven’t increased since 1999. Coun. Jim Olender said they’re supposed to go up every five years and homeowners have had a long “bonus period.”
Wagner suggested the charges be increased 50 per cent now and 50 per cent later. She asked Lavigne for his opinion. He said he didn’t have an answer at that time, but he might have a better idea by the next council meeting.
Neighbouring Woolwich Township charges $4,986 for an average residential property, a rate it’s looking to increase to $6,712.