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Hamilton’s DC rates set to increase

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 About a decade ago, Hamilton’s development charge rates were one of the lowest in the province.

But within two years, the phase-in of this round of DC rate hikes on residential and industrial properties will see Hamilton vault itself into the middle ranks of municipalities.

“This is our bible for the next five years,” said Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, who chaired a stakeholders group that hammered out the recommendations over the last 18 months. Politicians approved the higher rates at their June 4 general issues committee meeting.

“I believe this is a progressive approach. “It’s a defensible number.”

Hamilton’s development charges will jump by $6,888 per unit on residential developments to $34,983. Townhouses will now have a $25,285 DC charge after a $5,147 increase, while residential facilities will see a hike of $2,542 to $11,351. Hamilton’s commercial DC rates will rise from $16.16 per square foot to $18.77, and industrial properties will see a boost from $8.98 per square foot to $11.44 per square foot. In 1999Hamiltonwas one of only a few municipalities that didn’t have DCs for industrial properties.

Critics of Hamilton’s DC practices have argued by providing various exemptions and discounts to developers have costHamiltonover $30 million in revenues just in the last couple of years.

The new rates will be phased-in after the new DC bylaw takes effect in July. For the first six months, developers will see no increases. But starting in 2015 the new rates will increase by 50 per cent, and by 2016 the full rate increase will be implemented. The new DC bylaw has a shelf life of five years. Politicians are scheduled to vote on the committee’s recommendation at their June 11 council meeting.

For the most part Hamilton’s home builders were accepting of the higher DC rates. But they are protesting the proposed Hamilton Conservation Authority’s $22 DC rate, which is the first time the organization is implementing such a charge. The Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association is already appealing the Halton Conservation Authority’s DC charge. If the HHHBA win’s its Ontario Municipal Board appeal, Hamilton would have to repeal the HCA DC rate and refund any money that had been paid out to developers.

Nando De Caria, president of the HHHBA said any increase in DC rates will be passed onto home buyers. He has already seen some potential purchasers hesitate to buy a new home based on the new DC rates.

“Any increase will make a homeowner think twice,” said De Caria.

Over the next decade Hamilton is projected to see its population increase by 50,000 with a need for nearly 30,000 residential units, according to a study conducted by Watson and Associates Economist Ltd. The study also forecasted a need for 16,943,200 square feet of non-residential space.

Development charges are used by the municipality to help pay for such services as parking, transit, fire, police, recreation services, libraries, social housing, health care and public works.

The new residential DC rates put Hamilton in the middle of the pack when compared to other provincial municipalities. Burlington’s residential rate is $45,048, while Oshawa’s is $37,314.

Burlington also has one of the higher commercial DC rate at $36.09 per square foot, with London at $24.71 and Ottawa sitting at $19.64.

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