Midland building permit fees set to rise by 15%

·2 min read

Council seems set to recommended increasing fees to some services, including building permits, at its upcoming council meeting.

The matter was brought up a recent council session during which the public was invited to call in or make submitted comments. One resident, Terry Condon, wrote in with questions for which staff later provided answers to MidlandToday in an email.

Condon's first question was around cost of increase to price of paper.

"Has there been a 15% increase on the cost of paper to generate building permits?" he asked in his letter. "Has there been a 15% increase in the cost of printer ink required to generate building permits?"

Staff responded that while paper and ink cost may be increasing, they are not a significant cost in providing these services.

"We are moving to providing more digital services to allow us to be efficient and handle more demands," wrote town spokesman Randy Fee. "Also, as the building code changes and becomes more complex it is taking longer to review plans and do inspections which results in cost increases."

Condon also wanted to know why there was a need to increase fees when council has already approved increased funding in the budget to cover estimated costs for 2021.

"The Building Code relies on a user fee generated system to cover the cost of yearly expenses," wrote Fee. "We have been reliant on reserves to cover costs and this is not sustainable."

Condon pointed to one the town's 2021 priorities; "support initiatives that bring affordable housing options to Midland."

His letter stated that increasing simple items such as building permits goes against that statement.

"Ensuring we have the appropriate tools and skills available to support the needs of our community will allow us to effectively support Council’s strategic initiatives," was Fee's response.

Condon also wondered why there was a need to increase fees since the building department was able to provide a proper level of customer service for 2020 without any issues.

"The Building department relies on a user fee generated system to cover the cost of the Building Budget," wrote Fee. "(Last year) saw the Building Department draw $165,000 from the Building reserve fund to cover the cost of expenses. At this rate, the Building reserve will be depleted within two years and general taxes would need to pay for the shortfall of revenues. This situation is unsustainable."

The bylaw to increase fees will be brought back for council approval at its next meeting April 21.

Details around the proposed increase to building fees are available on pg. 103 of council agenda document that can be accessed online.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com