The City of Port Colborne is looking to “keep the momentum going” by continuing to waive development charges for residential buildings.
Waiving charges started two years ago and since then there has been a dramatic increase in development interest in the city, said development and planning director Dan Aquilina.
“The amount of building permits we’ve received since that waiver has shown that the market is turning,” he said.
He said in previous years, there would typically be six or seven homes built, but that number increased to 15 homes for 2015. For 2016, the city is sitting at about 25 homes being developed.
Aquilina said waiving fees could be seen as an incentive for people to develop in Port Colborne.
“I’ve heard in my time here it’s expensive to develop. It’s not cheap because you have your building permits, those fees, but they’re nominal, minimal,” he said.
“But it’s the development charges that hit harder on people because it’s not only the municipality that collects development charges, it’s the Region of Niagara that has development charges, too.”
Mishka Balsom, president and chief executive officer of Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, said her chamber encouraged the city to continue waiving fees for another year because of the increase it has seen in development. She also feels the city could see a construction boom because of it.
“If you’re a developer and you can build residential homes and the development charges are being spared in it, it’s a huge venture for people to look at,” she said.
One of the things Port Colborne has going for it, too, is land. Balsom said there is still a lot available in Port Colborne,
Aquilina said, “The activity we’re seeing now is within the built boundaries of the city. The roads are there, the services are there. The lots are vacant, so you just have to tap into the existing sewer or water line.”
Even with the city waiving development fees, there isn’t any worry about losing money in the long run.
“Although the city won’t collect the development charges immediately, in the long term they will develop more property taxes,” said Balsom. “So it will offset the charges that they might not be able to collect now with something they will be able to collect later.”
Aquilina said the city also sees it as a positive because it’s helping make development more affordable for people.