Lots of talk, but no deal on fees
Mayor meets with developers, biz types to discuss proposed levies
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/09/2016 (2271 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and representatives of the residential development community and other business leaders met for 90 minutes Monday, but both sides remain far apart on whether new fees need to be levied on new developments.
While Bowman and the industry representatives said the discussions were cordial and there was a commitment to keep talking, neither side changed its stand. It appears the civic administration will produce a report for council’s consideration regardless of the industry’s concerns.
Bowman wouldn’t say he wants the fees in place for 2017 — but he wouldn’t rule it out either, explaining he’s instructed the administration to have a report ready as quickly as possible.
“We are doing our best to expedite the decision so there is greater certainty in the market,” Bowman told reporters following the meeting.
“We’d like to see it expedited… considering the status quo is not an option.
“Winnipeggers voted (in the October 2014 election) for positive change. There is an expectation that positive changes will be made.”
Industry representatives met with reporters first, where they expressed cautious optimism for further discussions.
Blunt-talking spokesman Eric Vogan, Qualico’s vice-president of community development and president of the Manitoba chapter of the Urban Development Institute, the residential development industry’s lobby group, told reporters both sides are heading for a major confrontation if Bowman doesn’t slow down and have meaningful discussions with the industry.
“I don’t think this will work,” Vogan said. “If, indeed (Bowman) proposes to move ahead… there will be trouble.”
A recent report by Hemson Consulting found that new developments don’t pay for all the services they cost the city.
Bowman said the report supports his position. He is waiting for an administrative report about how fees can be applied.
The Hemson report proposed a range of fees for new residential and non-residential development. The report proposed an $18,000 fee be applied to a new 1,800-square-foot home. Similar charges would apply for townhouses, apartments, condominiums as well as new non-residential development, including office space, retail, industrial and institutional construction.
The report said revenue from a new growth fee should only be used to finance new infrastructure projects.
Vogan said he’s convinced Bowman will use new charges to balance the city’s operating budget.
When asked, Bowman wouldn’t rule out that, saying only the funds would be directed to pay for linkages between communities, to cover such costs as transit and water and waste.
“Our major concern is there is an attempt to couch a tax on development as a growth charge when it is in fact a source of money that’s to be used to balance the existing fiscal problems in Winnipeg,” Vogan said.
Monday’s meeting was with business leaders and the residential development industry — the Winnipeg and Manitoba chambers of commerce, the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association, the Urban Development Institute, Winnipeg Realtors, the Manitoba Business Council, and the Winnipeg Construction Association.
Bowman will meet today with representatives from Winnipeg’s commercial development industry.
Loren Remillard, CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, said he expects the city to continue talking with the development industry before presenting any report to council.
“We did impress upon the mayor for the need to take the time,” Remillard said. “Good policy doesn’t happen overnight.”
Mike Moore, president of the home builders association, repeated his concerns the city is developing a fee policy regardless of the industry’s objections.
“We have to work together or it doesn’t work.”
Moore said he does not believe there is enough time before the 2017 budget to have the type of discussion that would lead to a framework for a fee structure.
“I’d be extremely disappointed if (development fees) were just arbitrarily introduced,” for the 2017 budget, Moore said.
“If we had appropriate consultations, meetings that looked at the various costs — I’d be surprised if it could be done in that time.”
Moore said the industry will release a critique of the Hemson report by the end of the week or early next week.
He reiterated his concerns that much of the consultant’s work was based on data supplied by the city he said is incorrect.
Updated on Monday, September 12, 2016 12:58 PM CDT: Update