Millions in Development Charge Refunds for Barrie Developers

Development Charges Lowered by 12%

City Agrees to Significant Refunds
Barrie City Council has agreed to refund developers an estimated $7-8 million in development charges (DCs), following a settlement mediated by the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). This decision, retroactive to a year ago, also reduces DCs by 12%.

Approval and Settlement Details
The settlement was agreed upon during a closed-door session on June 19. According to Barrie’s Chief Financial Officer Craig Millar, the settlement will be finalized once the OLT directs the city to amend its DC bylaw and issue refunds. This process is expected to conclude by mid-September.

Impact on Developers and Taxpayers
Millar highlighted that developers who paid DCs since June 23, 2023, would be eligible for refunds, funded from existing DC reserves. While the reduction in DCs will result in shortfalls, future bylaw updates will address these deficits, ensuring taxpayers are not burdened.

Rationale Behind Development Charges
Development charges are imposed to cover the capital costs of infrastructure, such as water, sewer, roads, and streetlights, associated with growth. These charges ensure that existing residents are not financially responsible for new developments.

Historical Context and Future Projections
In recent years, Barrie’s DCs have seen various adjustments. Last year, DCs for single and semi-detached homes increased by 2.5% within the city’s former boundaries and by 11.5% in the Salem and Hewitt’s areas. Despite these increases, the city is now working to balance growth costs without overburdening current taxpayers.

Appeals and Future Developments
The appeals leading to this settlement were filed by major developers, including Hewitt’s Creek and Salem landowners. These areas are poised for significant residential development, potentially bringing in millions in DCs.

Legislative Changes and Their Impact
Recent legislative changes, such as Bill 185, are anticipated to increase DC collections by approximately $68 million over the next five years, offsetting some of the immediate impacts of the refund and reduction.

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