Development Charge overhaul

Cities used to develop organically. Once streets were laid down and divided into lots, neighbourhoods developed through general consensus. Noisy and smelly industrial areas were generally built away from residential areas and as cities expanded they relied heavily on businesses to provide the needed services and amenities. Nowadays, businesses pay a shrinking share of revenues to the city. To replace those lost revenues, Toronto uses development charges applied when new homes and businesses are constructed. Here are the amounts the city charges for new residential units.

Single homes & Semis $87,299

Multiples 2+ Bedrooms $72,158

Multiples 1 Bed and Bach. $36,198

Apartments 2+ Bedrooms $51,103

Apartments 1 Bed and Bachelor $33,358

Dwelling Room $23,660

These charges are applied regardless of the size of the home or the value of the land they are built on. For example, a detached 10,000 square foot Rosedale home built on an acre of land pays the same development charge as a 1200 square foot semi-detached in Rexdale. A luxury three-bedroom penthouse pays the same as a two-bedroom ‘affordable’ apartment. This doesn’t seem fair and may explain why some areas of the city lack appropriate services and amenities.

Readers have often wondered why developers need apartment buildings to be so much taller in Weston than in more affluent parts of the city. Development charges may be part of the reason.

Also under review is the Alternative Parkland Dedication Rate along with Section 37 charges. The idea behind Section 37 was to compensate for shoddy and overbuilt architecture by having the developer ‘donate’ to, for example, a community art project. One notorious example is the Nictophilia installation at Eglinton and Weston. Another is the exercise equipment in Cruickshank Park. The danger with this type of funding is that the local councillor’s hands are all over the project and it can end up appearing as a ‘gift’ from the councillor. Another problem with Section 37 funding was that the money generated was dependent on the value of the project. Downtown projects generated huge amounts of Section 37 money while our neck of the woods received token amounts. Read more here on the various charges or ‘Growth Funding Tools’ as the City now calls them.

The Province is asking for public input. Sadly, because I was slow in writing this article, two public information sessions have come and gone but it is not too late to provide input to the city by emailing¬†[email protected]

What about this idea, Council?

Giorgio Mammoliti speaking at City Council made absolute sense today when he questioned the uniform application of development charges across the entire city. Development charges are what the city bills developers for putting up new housing or building non residential floor space. These are the current rates for the city. Speaking shortly before the lunch recess today, Mammoliti seemed to indicate that Councillor Nunziata agrees with him.

He will be putting forward a motion at council this afternoon  that would encourage developers to build in the far flung suburbs by reducing development charges in areas like his own Ward 7, Weston, Mount Dennis and other parts of Toronto where some encouragement for development is needed.

Let’s hope he succeeds.

Watch this afternoon’s City Council session live here.