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    Home Builders and Region Reach an Agreement for North Oakville

    Big news regarding North Oakville development plans were reached this week.  An article on the subject was reported in the Oakville Beaver today which I thought summed up the issue nicely.  Please see the full article below as written by Tim Foran:
    Battle between Region and homebuilders alleviated, for now
    By Tim Foran, Metroland West Media Group
    Nov 27, 2009
    A long and bitter battle fought between Halton Region and major homebuilders in the residential development industry has been settled, for the moment.Regional council last week approved, with the support of a development industry lobbying group, a staff recommendation to continue collecting a disputed $7,888 per-house charge from residential developers in north Oakville and Milton with the money to be used to pay for roads and water and wastewater infrastructure.

    However, those developers will now be able to recoup the full amount back from the Region, at no interest, once the municipality collects the same charge from future developers.

    The unusual agreement results from a change in the Provincial law under which Halton will collect the charge.

    When council approved the charge in mid-July, it said the charge was allowable under the Province’s Municipal Act. Now, at the request of the development industry, the Region will collect the money through what’s called a front-ending agreement, a mechanism outlined in the Province’s Development Charges (DC) Act.

    What that means is the homebuilders will be able to recover the full $7,888 from fees that will be paid by future residential developers in Halton, with no risk to the taxpayer, regional staff told council. When the charge was under the Municipal Act, the same builders were only going to be able to get back just over 40 per cent of their money.

    “Ultimately, Halton has the opportunity now to generate the revenue they need to move forward on their capital (construction) program and the industry has the opportunity to find those contributions become recoverable in future development charges,” Joe Vaccaro, vice-president of policy and government relations for the Building Industry and Land Development association, said in a recent interview.

    BILD’s support for the Region’s proposal is a major compromise on its original position, outlined in a submission dated Aug. 14. In that letter to the Region, the association questioned the fairness of a portion of the charge. Specifically, $4,590 of the $7,888 being paid by residential developers in Milton and north Oakville goes to cover the cost of development charge exemptions the Province and the Region gives school boards, farms, industrial developers and places of worship, among others.

    BILD’s letter pointed out that practice is not allowed under the DC Act.

    The Act essentially states shortfalls due to such mandatory or discretionary exemptions can’t be made up through higher development charges on other development.

    Burlington resident Tom Muir told council last Wednesday he was confused as to how Regional staff propose to get around that section of the law. Muir said he preferred the Region maintain the charge under the Municipal Act, something it has done since 2005 without legal challenge, rather than taking a chance of creating a front-ending agreement that might be challenged at the Ontario Municipal Board by individual developers who don’t belong to BILD.

    Mayor Rob Burton originally echoed those concerns to staff, but was satisfied by their response. The Region’s legal staff said, even if the front-ending agreement is challenged successfully, the municipality could go back to charging the $7,888 from developers via the Municipal Act. The Region will also not reimburse current developers unless and until it has collected the money from developers in the future.



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