The chair of the city’s planning committee fully expects the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association to appeal higher development fees to the Ontario Municipal Board, but he is still hopeful a negotiated settlement can be reached.
Ottawa city councillor Peter Hume.
by Tom Pechloff
“They may have to appeal to protect their rights, but before everyone needs to start retaining consultants, we’ll be hopefully able to come to a resolution,” Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume told OBJ this week. “We’re not far away, but we’re far enough away that we’re not going to be able to resolve it tomorrow.”
Council approved the higher charges on Wednesday, saying they are needed to fund growth in the city for the next 10-17 years. Under the changes, development fees on some houses could rise by more than $5,000.
Builders generally pass on fee hikes to homebuyers, meaning house prices will go likely go up as a result.
The fee hikes were necessary to fund essential projects such as new housing infrastructure and public transit, Mr. Hume said. The two sides disagree on the costs, he said, and since the old bylaw development charges bylaw was expiring, they simply ran out of time to reach a consensus.
Even if the homebuilders do take their case to the OMB – an appeal must be heard by July 21 – Mr. Hume said council is ready to keep working toward a settlement. The city wants to get a deal done before campaigning for the Oct. 27 municipal election begins in earnest in September.
“This is the last big piece of council’s priorities … and I know that this council would like to see that all wrapped up before we start into the elections for a new council,” he said.
Mr. Hume called the appeal process a “mechanism to continue to discuss the issue.”
If a settlement is reached before the appeal process is complete, it would go back to council in the form of a settlement report. Once council approved the deal, all appeals would be dropped.
“It’s not necessarily an ideal way to do these types of things, but because of the time frames involved it’s the only way to legitimately make sure that we can continue negotiations,” Mr. Hume said.