WINCHESTER – The North Dundas council has passed a new development charges, (DC), bylaw, but not without knocking down some suggested high fees for non-residential growth.

The suggested DC rate for non-residential development was 400 per cent, but councillors decided to reduce that to 25 per cent, which would bring the amount, proposed by the study, $2.64/ sq. down to 0.66/ sq.

The residential rate had a slight increase going from the current $7,291 to $7,450.

Growth in any community comes at a cost. North Dundas has experienced an amazing burst of growth to its business and residential sector. More homes usually means more businesses and consequently more services. The cost of building and maintaining services such as roads, sewers and water for example are partially covered by DC.

North Dundas is increasing its development charges at a time when they will be more important than ever as the demand for services increases. The challenge councillors face is how to raise the charges without discouraging economic growth especially in the non-residential sector.

The journey to establish new charges began in mid November 2021 and after a study by Watson and Associates the draft development charges bylaw were presented to the council.

The study suggested that non-residential charges go up 400 per cent, a number that councillors did not accept.

Calvin Pol the director of planning building and bylaw enforcement presented the latest version of the DC bylaw for council to pass. The new bylaw has to be passed by Jan. 25.

Pol said, “So this is following up on our last public meeting we did on the development charges, study background study and the draft bylaw that was presented to council.”

He explained that the bylaw was intended to support capital projects that were contained in the development charge background study.

“It also ensures that the increase in the need for services will be met by council to cover off the charges that are there, and the capital costs associated with those costs with those projects, and also that council accepts and approves the development charge background study that was prepared by Watson and Associates that no further public meeting is required at this time,” he said.

Once passed, the bylaw can be revisited to make necessary changes and amendments as long as they are made within a year of its passing.

Pol highlighted the 400 per cent increase and suggested it was excessive even though it was warranted by the DC study. As an example, he explained a new non-residential building of 6,000 sq. coming to North Dundas in the past would have a DC of around $2,042.  A 400 per cent increase would change that to around $10,890. The council decided to back off from the suggested amount, and that means the revised DC for a new non-industrial 6,000 sq. ft. would be $2,640 on average.

Councillors agreed that the 400 per cent increase was too much. Mayor Fraser said, “That is a very big difference from what previous development charges had.”

The mayor was concerned that industrial development in the municipality might be discouraged from coming to North Dundas because of a high DC rate.

Councillor Thompson agreed saying, “I’d like to look at the numbers. I think that’s too drastic an increase, especially when we’re trying to bring in more business, commercial and industrial.

Deputy Mayor Armstrong said, “I certainly concur. That’s certainly one of the ones that is unacceptable.” while we may be entitled to a 400 per cent increase, that doesn’t mean that we should be collecting that.”

Councillor Annable agreed saying, “I just want to concur with my other two colleagues. When I first read it, I kept looking for a decimal point or something  I couldn’t believe it was that high.”

Councillor Bergeron, the newest councillor, who was just that night sworn in as a councillor replacing former Councillor Hoy agreed that the increase was too high.