A controversial Ontario bill that asks municipalities to scrap development fees to build homes quicker, won’t impact Bancroft, says the town’s mayor. At least not yet.
Mayor Paul Jenkins says the town has already chosen to not issue development fees for builders. The policy, enacted in a previous council term, was meant to attract developers to Bancroft and build more apartments, to ease a housing crunch, as well as to attract other businesses.
Jenkins believes, for now, the decision to forgo development fee revenue, which pays for infrastructure that supports population growth, makes sense. He feels the increased tax revenue that comes from new developments makes up for the loss. But that feeling could change in the future.
“One of our tasks this term is we’re going to study that. We’re going to look – crystal ball – down the road a bit. There will be a day where (the policy has to end). There will be a point where we feel that our program has been successful enough that we feel that we’re in a much better position.”
The bill, known as the More Homes Built Faster Act, is causing tension elsewhere. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has said that, while it welcomes housing initiatives, it fears the bill takes decision-making away from cities and towns.
But what Bancroft is doing has rendered that debate a moot point here, says the mayor. The town also has a program that allows developers to defer some tax payments, to allow developers to get going on projects quicker.
“If you look at what we’re doing right now with our development fee policy and with our property tax policy, we’re doing exactly what this Bill 23 is trying to achieve and that is to get stuff here and done quicker and we’ve had developers state that the reason they’re here is because of those two policies.”