Walter Sendzik wrote in the Standard today that it would be a bad idea to raise development charges to 50% from 19%, as staff are recommending. While this would bring the Region in line with other municipalities in the GTA, Sendzik argues we should be looking west to competitors in Brantford and London, where development charges are much lower.
I don’t know enough about the economics of development charges to make an informed comment on the proposed changes. Having said that, I am naturally inclined to trust the professionals.
Speaking generally, it seems to me that the prime selling-point of Niagara shouldn’t be rock bottom development prices. We have other assets in our favour, like our proximity to the US and our unique agricultural industries. Beggar-thy-neighbour policies leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Additionally, it might be consistent with the spirit (if not the letter) of the Places to Grow Act to throw a monkey wrench in the high-volume low-markup development industry that gives us acres of single detached homes and big box retail. And if that’s the case, we might be looking at another north-south battle in Niagara, which means this ought to be interesting.