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County looking at new development charges

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Essex County Council has decided to dip into its reserves to do a study that could have a big impact on future development.


At last Wednesday night’s meeting, manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger presented a report that will now see the county spend up to $60,000 on whether or not the county should be charging fees for new development.


“It would be appropriate to have the ability to fund growth related services and infrastructure through the levy of fees for the benefitting of new development,” wrote Belanger in her report.


Belanger pointed out that currently new development does not fund county services including library, land ambulances, long-term care, roads and waste diversion.


“I think there are enough fees and things for developers to pay,” said Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Kirk Walstedt who seemed to be the only county councillor opposed to the study. “We are talking about affordable housing and keeping costs down.”


Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy who commented via Zoom, said she agreed that a study should be done however, she wanted to know if affordable multi-residential housing could be exempt.


“We have development charges at the local level where we provide the vast majority of infrastructure services. I don’t understand why we need this at the county level,” said Walstedt.


Walstedt felt that it was double-dipping as far as charges and wondered if any other upper-tier governments have such development charges.


“It’s a concern of administration in terms of us not duplicating charges that are already in place,” said Essex County CAO Sandra Zwiers.


“The request is to explore what development charges could be put on county-related services only,” she added.


Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti, also commenting by Zoom, said that it was not double-dipping and that Essex County is one of the few counties that do not charge at the county level.


In her report, Belanger noted that in 2009 as part of the county’s Official Plan, a consultant recommended the county consider development charges, which to date, they have not done.


“I am fully in favour of this,” said Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb on looking into development charges. “With all the growth coming to the county, we have to target the funds to pay for that growth.”


Gibb, who also said it was not double-dipping, added, “we have to find new ways to pay for the development.”


Belanger expects the study on the charges to be ready by the fall.

County looking at new development charges

By Fred Groves

 

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