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Bracebridge approved the Draft Development Charges Background Study
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Bracebridge approved the Draft Development Charges Background Study

Posted: 2024-04-12 07:30:13 By: thebay

Bracebridge Committee approved the Draft Development Charges Background Study, in the April 11, 2024, Special General meeting.

The study released on March 21st, was conducted by Hemson Consulting Limited and will be used in preparation for the new Development Charges By-law implemented July 4.

Hemson representative, Andrew Mirabella, advised that development charges are “charges imposed on development to pay for growth related capital costs.” It creates funds for new infrastructure and facilities to meet the demands of community service levels.

The new By-law resulting from the study will last up to 10 years, however, prior to approving a new one the Town is required to complete this background study and have at least one public meeting.

Hemson indicated that the study is in line with current legislation, Bill 23 (Build More Homes Faster Act), and outlines that affordable and attainable homes be exempt from development charges, as will building additional units or suites, and non-profit housing, among other initiatives. Discounts will be provided for rental housing developments with more than four units, based on the number of bedrooms, and the fully calculated rates will be “fully phased in a 5-year period.”

Development charges of the Town are listed as: Single or Semi-Detached $19,564, Rows and Multiples $16,701, Apartments with 2+ bedrooms $13,520, Apartments with 1 to 0 bedrooms $10,339, and Non-Residential ($/sq.m.) $53.13.

According to the study’s Residential Rate Comparison (per single detached unit), Hemson indicated that Bracebridge charges are comparable to other municipalities with it’s Current Rate at $22,000 for residential (comparable to Georgian Bay and Gravenhurst), and Calculated at $36,341, and Indexed at $31,887 (both comparative to areas such as Penetanguishene and Midland).

Non-residential rate comparison per square meter puts Bracebridge at the lower end of the spectrum with the Current Rate at $23.74 (comparable to Lake of Bays and Gravenhurst), and in the middle with Calculated at $76.87 and Indexed at $63.97 (both comparable to Georgian Bay, Orillia, and Midland).

Hemson advised, “The Town would be subject to impose discounts and exemptions under the DCA (arising from Bill 23).” However, this can change because of the new legislation established yesterday, Bill 185 (Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024).

He advised that further changes will apply because of the new Bill, which will continue to impact the Town’s By-law moving forward, similar to the impact of Bill 23, with building more affordable homes faster as a primary focus.

Today’s meeting provided the public with the opportunity to share their feedback about the study, and a few developers attended and expressed various concerns.

Suresh Singh, of LC Development Group, from Toronto, advised, “We feel we should be provided with a unique manner because we are doing what nobody else is doing.”

He asked that the company have the opportunity to consult directly with staff because they are concerned about the numbers. He said, “I’m not sure how you come up with the numbers without consulting LC Development Group.”

He advised their rebate portion in the study is “misaligned.” He said it tells him, “Not to build anymore affordable houses in Bracebridge.”

Local resident, John Amerdale, said, “Muskoka is in a housing crisis… It’s a regressive proposal that does nothing to improve Bracebridge housing or the environment.”

He expressed concerns about the increase in rates, suggested the “growth forecast is too low,” and inquired about why climate change and energy efficiency aren’t included. He also asked, “Why are new home buyers paying for a new community centre?” 

Another community member, Bob List, involved in the industry for 40 years, referred to the study as, “ill formed, and doesn’t cover substantive issues.”

He suggested the Town “freeze development charges at the current rate.” He added that the Town should “invite members of the development community in a meeting to discuss issues and matters of incentivizing.”

Councillor, Don Smith, created an amendment to the original motion, supporting the suggestion for setting up a meeting between staff and developers to discuss relevant issues. He said, “The development community is concerned about fundamental calculations in the study,” and suggested the report “gets another look at.”

Councillor, Debbie Vernon, supported the idea of more consultation with developers as well. She said, “I think it’s important to be transparent in the process and we need to make the time and space and make sure it happens.”

Councillor, Barb McDonald, expressed concern about why the meeting wasn’t “filled with developers.” She said, “We’ll need to hear from a lot of people about whether they’re in favour or their concerns.” 

However, the committee voted in favour of having an open-door approach rather than staff setting up a meeting with developers.

Director of Finance/Treasurer, Paul Judson, advised that this meeting was the opportunity for the public to share their feedback. He welcomed developers to contact him for a one-on-one meeting prior to staff putting together the new proposed development By-law.

In the meantime, staff will consider the public feedback in their analysis on the new By-law, and report back to Committee with their recommendations for the new Development Charges By-law in the upcoming Special General Committee meeting on April 22.