The Region of Waterloo is facing a challenge at the Ontario Municipal Board over new development charges for transit and waste management that went into effect Jan. 1.
On Dec. 21, regional officials received notice that the Waterloo Region Homebuilders’ Association was appealing the development charge bylaw to the Ontario Municipal Board, which decides land planning disputes.
“I have to say I am disappointed that our local home builders are doing this,” Regional Chair Ken Seiling said. “I think we do a lot and we’ve had a good relationship with our home builders and we’ve softened our development charges over the years to respond to some of their concerns, so I am quite frankly disappointed that they are doing this.”
Development charges are fees developers pay for growth. It isn’t a charge to the municipalities.
The region reviewed its development charge bylaw after changes to provincial rules were made at the end of 2015. The region can now calculate the charges for future transit and use development charges for waste management — excluding landfills and incineration.
The regional government was one of the first, if not the first to take advantage of the new rules and officials think that precedent may be part of what’s driving the challenge.
“It didn’t come as a surprise … Interested to see that it’s a Toronto lawyer doing it so I guess the question is, is this a local challenge or is this a provincial challenge because we were the very first bylaw out after the new legislation. So it may very well be a larger home builders’ concern, not just a local one,” Seiling said.
As part of the bylaw, politicians opted to grant exemptions from transit and waste charges for developers in the city cores until Feb. 28, 2019. An existing exemption program for other development charges continues until 2019.
Now, the region will have to pay the development charges it would normally collect from developers for those projects because by law the charges must be paid. The cities will do the same.
They also chose to exempt developers in the townships from the charges until at least 2019.
That’s one of the issues the association take issue with, according to a letter from the lawyer.
They say the cities-only transit charge subsidizes development in the townships.
The bylaw remains in effect while the appeal is addressed.
There are a few possible outcomes of the appeal.
The board could dismiss it in whole or in part and it could order the bylaw repealed and amended.
Regional staff plan to review the appeal with consultants who prepared the background study that the bylaw is based on.
The current development charge bylaw expires in 2019 and then the region will have to craft a new plan.