Port Colborne City Council voted Sept. 26 to extend the waivers of all development charges in the municipality for another year, after an address from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) encouraging them to do so.
The city had decided to waive development charges two years ago, and the policy was up for renewal. Citing the huge increase in the number of housing starts in the city, the attendant growth in construction jobs (which had outpaced general job growth in Port Colborne by a factor of six since the policy started), and the potential for the city to turn a housing boom into a lucrative construction boom, the GNCC advocated extending the waivers by another year.
Development charges are levied against developers by municipal governments when building permits are issued. They are used to cover the cost of new infrastructure, such as roads, water and wastewater, and municipal services. These costs can be substantial – over $10,000 for residential properties or over $12 per square foot for non-residential development from the Region, and potentially a similar amount (or even more) from the municipality. Waiving these costs is a substantial incentive for greater property development.
As the GNCC and Port Colborne’s economic development staff argued, the loss of revenue from these waivers would be more than made up by new property taxes levied from properties that would not otherwise have been developed.
The policy will not only be a boon to developers working in Port Colborne, but will have positive effects on the whole community as more well-paid construction jobs are created, increasing spending and economic activity in the city, according to a GNCC news release.