Original Published on Aug 15, 2022 at 13:36

By Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Local taxpayers will no longer have to foot the bill for future infrastructure development.

During the latest council meeting, Chatham-Kent Council passed a new bylaw which will have developers pay a fee before moving ahead with future projects.

Development charges aim to ensure growth-related infrastructure costs are funded by new development and not by existing residents and businesses.

In the past, the Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission has had development charges in place to help fund water and wastewater-related infrastructure. However, the municipality has never collected development charges on a number of other eligible services, such as road-related infrastructure, fire protection, policing, ambulance, libraries, parks and recreation and waste diversion, which was the intent of the proposed bylaw.

“The Development Charges Act provides the legislative authority for the collection of development charges and requires that a background study be completed at least once every five years,” states the municipality of Chatham-Kent. “The study forecasts the municipality’s future residential and non-residential growth to determine infrastructure needs and costs. This information is used to calculate the amount of money that a new development needs to pay in order to cover new infrastructure and services.”

In late 2020, Council approved Watson & Associates to undertake a Development Charges Background Study.

“​Development charges provide for the recovery of growth-related capital costs associated with residential and non-residential growth within a municipality. The development charges help to ease the financial burden on existing taxpayers to fund services as a result of growth, which would otherwise be in the form of higher property taxes or user fees. The principle behind development charges is that growth should pay for growth,” read the report.

On July 11, 2022, a public meeting of council was held to comply with the legislated process of the Development Charges Act as part of the public consultation process and to solicit public input. The meeting was also held to answer questions regarding the DC Study’s purpose, methodology and the proposed introduction of the Municipality’s DC bylaw. A detailed report to council was also provided in advance of the July 11, 2022 meeting.

According to Ward Three councillor Steve Pinsonneault, the report had him unsure about his decision and vote.

“We made a conscious decision a few years back that we would keep this in check, and it promotes growth. I know right now we’re in a building boom, and everything is moving forward, but that’s going to come to an end shortly and then we’re going to go back to begging people to build again. I don’t know if this is a good idea,” said Pinsonneault.

CK Mayor Darrin Canniff said these charges are run-of-the-mill in the majority of other municipalities across the province.

“When a new house goes in or a new subdivision, it drives up additional costs for the municipality,” he said. “Existing taxpayers have been paying for that incremental infrastructure to deal with it.”

According to the report before council, a newly constructed single and semi-detached residential unit will be charged $17,316 when the building permit is issued. The report states the level of contribution from developers is required to pay for future infrastructure projects identified in this DC Study based on the estimated growth assumptions.

This item reprinted with permission from The Independent News, Ridgetown, Ontario