The city is growing and certain districts have seen a disproportionate amount of intensification. There’s no question that Toronto needs to improve fundamental pieces of infrastructure – the transit network groaning under record high ridership rates, the roads and sewers. But the move to boost development charges to pay for services is a contentious issue.
A number of deputants, ranging from ratepayers associations, neighbourhood groups and big-name condo developers, appeared this morning in front of the City of Toronto’s executive committee. They fell into two camps: those that wanted the committee to vote as soon as possible on suggested the boost in charges, and the other, that thought more time was needed to discuss the topic.
Today, the executive committee opted to defer the vote on hiking development charges until the September 24th executive meeting. The motion, put forward by Councullor Peter Milczyn, was supported by other councillors such as Mike Thompson, who believed more consultation is needed.
The numbers at stake: the city says with the influx of people and the need for the infrastructure to support them, $3.4-billion is needed for the next decade, and the proposed 90 per cent hike in development charges would generate about $240-million per year.
Among the splitting up of costs, one ratio that kept being thrown onto the floor was the 70/30 breakdown mentioned in the staff report, with residential developers, who are often painted as main catalysts behind the city’s population boom, paying 70 per cent of the new services needed. In other words, “growth pays for growth.”
Residential developers that gave deputations warned that hiking charges would harm the condo market and force prices to rise and new homeowners to shoulder the costs. They did not float an alternative to the 70/30 ratio, saying too many variables were at stake.
Many councillors pointed out Toronto has the lowest residential development charges compared to other GTA municipalities and since the freeze was enacted during harder economic times, there’s no need to keep the charges so low in order to spur development.
“Do we need to increase fees? Absolutely yes –substantially. But bluntly increasing them is a dangerous and foolish thing to do,” said Councillor Adam Vaughan.
He suggested an asymmetrical approach. Instead of having charges that apply to residential buildings across the entire city, areas struggling to attract development, priority neighbourhoods and the Avenues should have smaller fees than parts of the city hoping to curb runaway building.
One thing everyone agreed on: someone’s going to have to pay even if there’s no agreement on who should foot the bill for the need for services.