The privilege of building a new home in Woolwich will cost you an additional $1,700 next month, as the township plans to hike its development charges by 35 per cent.
The fees are intended to cover future municipal expenditures related to growth, with the developers – ultimately the buyers, of course – paying for the cost of each new addition to the building stock.
For fully serviced single-family homes in Woolwich’s urban areas, the new charges considered by councillors Tuesday night would see levies rise to $6,712 from the current $4,986. In Breslau, due to servicing arrangements with the City of Kitchener, the increase would hit $8,432.
Over the next 10 years, the township expects population to grow by 4,741 to 28,926, requiring 1,790 new residential units.
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.
On the non-residential side (industrial, commercial), those constructing new buildings would be assessed a fee of $1.80 per square foot, down from $1.95. For Breslau developments, the number actually increases to $2.17, again due to servicing for water and sewers.
Dan Wilson of Watson & Associates Economists, the firm hired to carry out Woolwich’s development charges study, told councillors meeting June 17 that rates are arrived at by forecasting population and housing gains and then calculating the cost of providing services to accommodate that growth.
The 34.6 per cent increase in residential rates, tacked on by builders to the price of the home, drew questions from Coun. Allan Poffenroth.
“You mean it’s going to cost builders 34 per cent more just for the township portion of development charges?”
Mayor Todd Cowan noted that Waterloo Region is currently looking at a 60 per cent increase in the much larger fee it applies to new homes. Where Woolwich’s charges currently amount to about $5,000 on a single-family home, the region already levies a fee of $13,000.
“Buy it now,” he advised those in the market for a new home.
On the township side, director of finance Richard Petherick noted that in the last review of charges in 2009, residential rates went down 20 per cent, with non-residential fees falling 15 per cent.
Coun. Mark Bauman argued the fees simply reflect legitimate costs due to development.
“I don’t feel bad charging developers for growth,” he said.
Although Tuesday’s council session was a mandatory public meeting to air the proposed changes, nobody attended to discuss the issue. Councillors are expected to ratify the changes on June 24.