Bill 23 could cost Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo tens of millions

Waterloo Region’s three largest cities would find themselves with a budget deficit of millions of dollars over the next five to ten years as a result of the Ontario government’s Bill 23, according to figures provided by city officials.

The Ford government’s Bill 23: More Homes Built Faster Act was introduced on October 25. Among other things, it would reduce the fees municipalities can charge developers for the cost of building urban infrastructure to support a new community.

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Garett Stevensen, acting director of planning at the City of Kitchener, says staff estimated the cost of Bill 23 would be about $40 million over 10 years.

“That includes hard infrastructure — things like sewers and pipes, studies related to growth, and land acquisitions to provide soft services like a fire station in the community center,” he said.

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In Waterloo, city officials have estimated developer fees to be between $23 million and $31 million over the next five years, representing a reduction of about 35%.

“These are conservative figures as they do not include operating impacts or any cost assumptions related to the cost of creating more accessible housing,” a Waterloo spokesperson told Global News in an email. .

A Cambridge spokesperson said if Bill 23 had existed for the past five years, it would have cost the city about $18 million in revenue.

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The Waterloo spokesman also noted that this poses a problem on how the funding gap can be filled.

“Municipalities have limited funding tools. Unless funded by the province, Bill 23 will shift some growth costs to the local tax base,” they wrote. « We may consider significant increases in municipal taxes and utility rates to offset funding shortfalls created by Bill 23, which will negatively impact affordability for existing homeowners. »

Stevensen noted that Kitchener is still trying to consider what options he will have to use to make up for lost revenue, but he also pointed out that many other problems will be created by the bill.

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“Bill 23 makes changes beyond development charges,” he said. “I know that’s what resonated, but there are also changes in other aspects of the natural heritage system, the cultural heritage designation process in Kitchener and other facets as well.

In the past, Kitchener would review many properties on a potential heritage list if there was a proposal for redevelopment, but now it is expected to do so almost immediately.

“So we have a heritage inventory, which are assets that we believe may have additional heritage values ​​that we haven’t fully considered,” the planner explained.

« The changes proposed and approved by Bill 23 are that we must review every inventory of properties over the next two years to determine whether or not we will designate. »

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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