Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City still pushing to impose new fees on developments

Rural areas have the right, Katz says

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City hall isn't backing down in its quest to find money to pay for services spawned by suburban growth.

Premier Greg Selinger confirmed Wednesday his government would not support giving Winnipeg new powers to impose new fees on developers.

But Mayor Sam Katz said the city will still formally request legislative changes to impose fees to cover the costs of growth-related services.

Katz said he doesn't understand how the province can allow rural communities to have the right to impose such charges on developers but not Winnipeg.

"If you live in a mature neighbourhood... should you be subsidizing growth in other parts of the city? Because that's what this is all about -- having growth pay for growth," Katz said following Selinger's remarks.

During a news event with Winnipeg's mayor to announce a new crime-fighting strategy, Selinger told reporters the city has enough resources to find the money it needs and he won't give Winnipeg any more powers.

"We're not interested in new fees and charges," Selinger said. "They can do many of the things they want to do now through development agreements... We're not going to bring forward legislation."

The concept of a growth development charge is new to Winnipeg but exists across Canada and the U.S. Rural municipalities in Manitoba have the legislative authority to impose new fees on developers.

Winnipeg is bound by the Winnipeg Charter, which restricts development fees only to the immediate infrastructure -- roads, sewers, sidewalks, drainage, intersection improvements -- directly connected to a new development.

The city says residents in new suburban communities are demanding services -- fire stations, libraries, police, parks and recreation, transit -- that are being subsidized by homeowners across the city and using money that should be used to fix existing infrastrucuture.

Katz said the city can't collect enough property taxes to repair existing infrastructure in established neighbourhoods and provide services for new suburban communities.

Katz said developers have already accepted the concept, so long as the fees apply only to services spawned by suburban growth.

Staff from the city and the province have been meeting since July on the issue and the city said provincial counterparts are receptive to the concept.

But Selinger said the city wrongly portrayed the province's reaction, adding provincial officials never endorsed the concept of new development fees.

"Favourable discussions means (the city has) ways to do things already," Selinger said. "We're transferring a record amount of actual hard dollars to them for infrastructure. We're not bringing forward any additional legislation."

-- with files from Bruce Owen

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2013 A7

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