No County Development Charges is BV preference

Eganville – Bonnechere Valley is recommending the County of Renfrew bring in no Development Charges following a request from the county for input.

“We are trying to attract residents to our area and one of the ways we do is being economically friendly,” Councillor Brent Patrick said during a committee meeting of council last Tuesday afternoon.

A recommendation from BV staff was approved stating instead of opting for either of the two recommendations presented by the county, the option was for no Development Charges anywhere in the county. The county had presented two options: County-wide Development Charges or Corridor/Area specific Development Charges (for example the Highway 17 corridor).

“Staff is concerned with timing and the economy, as well as the administration of something new when we are already under staffing and resource pressures,” a letter from CAO Annette Gilchrsit to the county stated.

However, if the Highway 17 corridor is interested, they would support that, she said in her letter.

Most of the Highway 17 municipalities already have development charges, Mayor Jennifer Murphy said. One of her issues is some of the items listed as Development Charges eligible services are not county run.

“The county does not run libraries and they don’t run waste water so basically what we are talking about is roads,” she said.

“For our very small municipalities, from my perspective, it does not make sense,” she said. “I will be speaking out against it.”

Mayor Murphy said the introduction of possible Development Charges is disappointing, but she supported the CAO response and would advocate for no Development Charges.

“There should be no Development Charges at this time, especially since we know we are still in recovery,” she said.

Coun. Patrick said he is against the charges.

“It is anti-development charges,” he said. “It does not incentivize anything.”

Councillor John Epps said he would be glad to be in the parking lot supporting Mayor Murphy’s stance at county council with a placard.

“Could we ask Annette to amend it and call it anti-development charges?” he questioned.

The mayor said if the local municipalities have development charges and the county adds them on this could potentially double the cost.

“Anybody developing in Bonnechere Valley, if we told them we were collecting the money but it is going to the county, they don’t see that so they will be in the parking lot with pitchforks,” she said.

The mayor said although those presenting information on Development Charges swear it has no negative impact, she does not believe it.

“Are we sending people who would develop here to another county?” she asked.

“If Bancroft didn’t have development charges but Eganville did, where are you building?” she asked Coun Patrick, using the example of the company he works with.

Development Charges puts pressure on developers who in turn pass them on to people living in a development or building, he replied.

“It is no different than any other tax,” he said.

It is better to develop with municipalities that are good to deal with and have lower charges, he said. Having no Development Charges locally makes it a better place for anyone considering building, he said.

“We don’t have a massive amount of Bonnechere Valley development outside of small projects,” he noted.

Another example is Madawaska Valley where there is growth happening and there are no development charges, he said.

NAW Has Same Thoughts

North Algona Wilberforce Township council also opposed the charges at its meeting last Tuesday night. Mayor James Brose said the county is seeking feedback from all of the municipalities before a decision is made.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader