Saying it’s paying dividends, councillors are prepared to extend for another year a development charges waiver in the city.
At a public meeting held recently, council heard that although the waiver has resulted in decreased revenues – the building since 2014 would otherwise have meant $245,000 in residential development fees – that is being made up for in increased tax assessment.
City planning director Dan Aquilina said that since development fees were waived on residential development in 2014, a move later applied to commercial, industrial and institutional properties, there has been 30 new builds.
That means about $120,000 to $130,000 in city property taxes – just in one year, which would pay for the one-time residential fees in two years.
That is why the extension is being recommended, he said.
“What that could be seen as is let’s keep the momentum going, let’s entice more development to occur to the municipality,” he said.
Councillors also heard from Hugo Chesshire, policy and government relations manager for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, who echoed the sentiment.
“The success of this policy is very evident,” he said, noting there have been 19 housing starts in 2016 up to this point versus 10 for all of 2015.
“We’re already way ahead of where we were,” he said.
He noted Port Colborne is joining other parts of Niagara in beginning to attract people from Hamilton, Burlington and other parts of the GTA.
“They’re finding Niagara is the affordable alternative to the alternatives,” he said.
Chesshire said housing prices in the city are shooting up dramatically, 50 per cent in one year, and that this real estate boom could be turned into a construction boom with the right policy response, meaning more good-paying jobs for Port Colborne residents.
He added the number of people in the city employed in construction jumped 12.5 per cent from 2014-15 versus 2.4 per cent for overall job growth.
The bylaw to extend the development charge waiver for an additional year will be brought forward to council at the Sept. 26 meeting.