Halton Region cannot accommodate growth without changes to Provincial Development Charges Act

Funding shortfall for growth-related infrastructure will grow to $339 million by 2031

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Halton Region cannot accommodate growth without changes to Provincial Development Charges Act

About the Author

Gary Carr

Gary Carr

In 2006, Gary was elected to the position of Regional Chair at the Regional Municipality of Halton, and was re-elected to the position in 2010. Gary sits on the Standing Committees of Health and Social Services, Administration and Finance, and Planning and Public Works, in addition to a number of Advisory Committees. Gary is also a member of the board for the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, and served on the Halton Regional Police Services Board and Metrolinx.

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On July 15, 2015 Halton Regional Council unanimously endorsed a resolution calling on the Province to amend the Development Charges Act, 1997 (DCA), which is currently under Provincial review, in order to protect Halton Region’s taxpayers from the financial impacts of growth.

Under the Provincial Places to Grow Act, Halton Region’s population is projected to grow by 50 per cent, from 550,000 to 780,000 people, by 2031. The Province’s growth targets (outlined in the Places to Grow Act), will impose significant financial challenges on the Region, unless the DCA is revised to enable regions to recover the full cost of growth through development charges (DCs) or other development funding tools.

Halton Region’s population is projected to grow by 50 per cent, from 550,000 to 780,000 people, by 2031.

The current Development Charges Act creates a significant financial challenge for municipalities, who at present, have limited means of revenue, only receiving 11 per cent of every tax dollar paid. Money is collected through property taxes, user fees and development charges-fees imposed by municipalities on developers to pay for increased capital costs related to growth. Development charges are the primary funding tool helping the Region fund the infrastructure needed to support growth-related capital costs for services like roads, water, wastewater, police and paramedic services.

We are asking the Province to amend the DCA so that municipalities can recover the full costs of growth. The Places to Grow Act places significant financial challenges on Halton Region. For too long we have been limited in what we can recover for growth-related infrastructure, resulting in a shortfall that amounted to over $148 million within the last 15 years. Protecting our taxpayers from the financial impact of growth is our number one priority.

Halton Region’s shortfall of $148 million within the last 15 years is due to the changes in the Development Charges Act.

Before the DCA, regional governments could recover all growth related costs for regional services through development charges. Today, however, only the cost to provide water, wastewater and roads can be fully recovered. Services such as waste management, hospitals, acquisition of parkland, municipal administration buildings and computer equipment are not eligible, even though demand for these services directly relates to the level of growth. As a result, these costs have been passed on to Halton taxpayers through increases in property taxes, and water and wastewater fees.

Mayor Rick Bonnette of Halton Hills brought the resolution forward. “It is unrealistic to think municipalities can meet the Provincial growth targets without the changes we are recommending in the resolution,” said Mayor Bonnette. “I echo Chair Carr in saying we will not place the cost of growth on existing taxpayers.”

If the following changes outlined in the Council resolution are not made to the DCA, Halton Region’s funding shortfall for growth-related infrastructure will grow to $339 million by 2031. The Council resolution calls on the Province to amend the DCA to reflect the following:

  1. Include all growth-related services funded by a municipality;
  2. Remove the 10 per cent discount for all services;
  3. Replace the 10 year average historic service level limits with a service level that is forward looking;
  4. Remove mandatory exemptions; and
  5. Continue to provide maximum flexibility to use alternate funding tools to finance significant growth related infrastructure to meet the Places to Grow Act.

To ensure that taxpayers are not responsible for the cost of growth, there are a number of critical supports including long-term funding and legislative amendments which are required from both the Provincial and Federal Governments. Through the support of Regional Council, Halton Region has developed the Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign which identifies specific needs and requirements from the Provincial and Federal Governments.

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