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Development charges frozen in Bracebridge

Development charges in the Town of Bracebridge are set to be frozen for the next year after getting council approval.

The charges will be indexed at 15.6 percent.

In a report done by Paul Judson, the town’s Director of Finance/Treasurer, he explained to the town’s General Committee on Dec. 6 that development charges help pay for capital projects – like maintaining roads – based on the principle that “growth pays for growth.” Judson told committee that the town is in the middle of an “ambitious capital program” and pointed out that development charges are an important revenue source. 

He added that inflation is affecting the town with it causing the price for many of their projects to go up.

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In Judson’s report, he outlines how much the indexing will cost. The biggest increase will be $776 for a single detached, duplex, and semi-attached unit.

Eight members of council voted in favour at committee with Coun. Don Smith the only dissenting vote. It was approved unanimously by Bracebridge council on Dec. 14.

Smith, who proposed deferring the vote before voting against it, said increasing development fees “flies in the face” of what the province is trying to accomplish with Bill 23. He said that increasing development charges won’t help tackle the affordable housing issue that Bracebridge is dealing with. Smith added that increasing charges is a “step backward.”

“We’re not aware of any study that shows the connection between charging low [development charges] and attracting assessment growth,” responded Judson.

“Someone has to pay the bill,” said Mayor Rick Maloney, who added that if it doesn’t come from development charges, it has to come from the taxpayer. 

However, Coun. Barb McMurray argued that it’s unfair to put this cost on rural areas. “They should not have to be paying for the development of new subdivisions or anything like that,” she said. McMurray said that rural homeowners see fewer benefits for their tax dollars than urban residents do. She suggested the development costs should be covered by the people “building million-dollar homes.”

Judson estimates in his report that, based on 2022 activity, the town could make around $76,100 in developmental charges in 2023 thanks to the indexing.

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