His Worship Mayor Ted Luciani
Members of City Council
RE: Planned Development Charge Changes
To: Mayor and Members of City Council,
On behalf of the business community we thank you for the opportunity to provide input on an issue that is important to our collective membership. The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, Thorold Business Council, Niagara Homebuildersʼ Association and Niagara Construction Association collectively represent a strong majority of businesses in Thorold. In addition, we have consulted with the Niagara Industrial Association as a means to bring forward comprehensive, business-friendly policy solutions.
It is our understanding that Thorold City Council will be voting on a significant increase in development charges. Collectively, we are very concerned about the proposed doubling of development charges in all property classes. It is our position that now is not the time to increase fees in a sector that can create much-needed jobs and development growth. The fragile state of Niagaraʼs economy continues to hamper both economic growth and employment opportunities. Drastic increases in development charges will only act as a further barrier to future economic growth at a time when Niagara needs more economic activity. We believe that the proposed doubling of both residential and non-residential development charges will have significant negative implications.
We believe that Niagaraʼs development charges should remain competitive with regions beyond the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Simply raising the charges to levels comparable to the GTA will only further hinder Niagaraʼs abilities to attract and retain businesses. In fact, this point is noted in the City of Thorold Development Charge Background Study, where the report indicates that high development charges represent a barrier to increased economic activity and sustained industrial and commercial growth. Furthermore, it has also been noted that increased development charges will have an adverse effect on the competitiveness of home prices and the entry capacity for investment in new home starts for the development community.
While we understand the need for municipalities to fund capital infrastructure and the amenities to support long-term community growth, a balance is required in todayʼs economic conditions to ensure that increasing cost recovery rates do not hinder future overall economic growth. Therefore, we recommend the following solutions without prejudice, as a way to balance market challenges with the needs of the local business community and future planning for the City of Thorold:
- Eliminate industrial development charge rates given the abundance of existing, serviced industrial sites.
- Freeze commercial development charge rates for the next two years and then phase-in the charges over the remaining 3-year period of the Development Charge-By Law.
- Phase-in residential development charges over the 5-year period of the By-Law.
- Remove development charges for building projects within the defined downtown area, and for all brownfield projects within the municipality.
- Exclude Port Robinson entirely from inclusion in this Development Charge By-Law and defer to a future Development Charge By-Law.
- Eliminate the discretionary exemption.
We believe that the above recommendations will enhance the City of Thorold as an investment destination market that is competitively positioned within the Southern Ontario marketplace.
As a business community, we are committed to fully engaging our collective membership on this issue and working with you to make a well-balanced Development Charge By-Law a reality. We would like to thank you for your consideration on this issue – one that is critical to the future prosperity of the City of Thorold.
If you require any further information please direct your staff to contact Kithio Mwanzia, the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerceʼs Director of Policy and Government Relations, at (905) 684-2362 ext. 222, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
Thorold Business Council
Niagara Homebuildersʼ Association
Niagara Construction Association