Peter Gilgan, the owner of Mattamy Homes here in Oakville recently sent out an email regarding his company’s North Oakville development plans. For those of you who don’t know, Mattamy is the largest land owner in the yet to be developed area of North Oakville (North of Dundas Street).
At the heart of the email is Mattamy’s concern over a proposed increase in new development taxes. When a new home is built, the developer has to pay a development charge to both the region and local government in exchange for certain developmental services such as roads and utilities, park development, fire and rescue services, additional library and recreational services, etc. Ultimately, these development charges are passed down to new home buyers as reflected in the purchase price of their home.
Oakville’s current development tax is already significantly higher than other surrounding communities (see figures below). On July 15th, Halton Regional Council is voting on a proposal to raise the development charges by $8,000 per lot to $55,200. To exacerbate the issue, a further $9,000 charge is being contemplated by Oakville Town Council, bringing the potential charge for a small detached lot in Oakville to $64,200.
Current Development Charges for small detached or semi-detached lots:
* Oakville’s current development charges are roughly 47% higher than Mississauga, 27% higher than Aurora and 58% higher than Pickering. The proposed increases to $55,200 and $64,200 will respectively bring charges in Oakville a whopping 72%-100% higher than our neighbours in Mississauga.
To be fair, I would expect Oakville to charge higher than average development costs as it also provides its residents with great services and a great community. Charges in excess of 50-100% do however make me question exactly how this money is being spent. I question whether or not the developers and new buyers are being forced to take the hit for shortfalls in government money no longer being passed down from the federal and provincial levels.
Development conversations have been going on for six long years now. Like many people, I am excited by the North Oakville development plan and am looking forward to see it move forward. Recent arguments over government funding and now development charges are however making me wonder if the benefits of careful planning are being outweighed by the costs of inertia. The longer these developments are delayed, the higher the cost of development to potential buyers. There have been 6 years of consideration given to understanding the effects of new development on the Town of Oakville. The question I want to know is whether or not anyone has considered the effects of NOT developing. Improvement of town services through an increased tax base being just one positive impact of new development.
We all want a great place to live but at some point, we have to stop the roadblocks and find a way to let development move forward. In my mind, squeezing the developers and in turn, squeezing the pockets of new residents is not a great approach. If you have thoughts on the matter, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at 905.338.9000, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.lindsaywalls.com.