Burlington taxpayers will make up $450 million shortfall caused by housing strategy, report suggests


Published March 24, 2023 at 3:02 pm

housing affordable online survey meeting
The Town of Oakville is hosting an open house to the public about its Housing Strategy and Action Plan at Town Hall on Oct. 18. INHALTON PHOTO

Ontario’s new housing strategy will cost Burlington more than $450 million — an amount taxpayers will have to pay — a new report commissioned by the City suggests.

The report was compiled to look at the financial impact of the More Homes Build Faster Act (Bill 23).

The Act aims to increase Ontario’s housing stock through a series of measures that include eliminating the fees and other charges and benefits municipalities have demanded and received from developers. Municipalities have traditionally used these funds to help pay for the necessary infrastructure needed to support these new developments.

The study goes on to suggest that if the terms of Bill 23 remain, or if financial relief does not come from senior levels of government, local taxpayers will be on the hook to pay for costs involved with the addition of 29,000 new homes that Burlington is expected to build by 2031.

Although the Ontario government has said municipalities will not lose revenue caused by development, it has yet to come up with a plan. This has municipalities such as Burlington worried.

“Without this funding, it is inevitable that growth-related projects will be delayed and it will become necessary to use tax-supported funds to ensure growth-related infrastructure is provided for complete communities,” the report states.

Compiled by the consulting firm Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., the analysis shows that Burlington will be cut off from $36.6 million in development charge revenue if Ontario stays with Bill 23. Further, the City will also lose out on $420 million worth of dedicated parkland (or payments in lieu) that a developer would normally provide when a project is approved.

“Overall, conveying that the changes proposed in Bill 23, namely those impacting development charges, parkland dedication fees (including land conveyance) and community benefits charges will have significant and broad sweeping consequences to municipal finances,” the report reads.

The report goes on to state that Bill 23 is contrary to the City’s long-standing guiding principle that “Growth pays for growth.”  That principle is based on the plan that new growth is financially sustainable as long as it pays for itself through development charges that are used for growth-related infrastructure, facilities and parks that these new communities will need.

“The principle of growth paying for growth is a critical consideration to avoid or minimize the burden of growth costs falling on existing taxpayers,” the report says.

Burlington officials say further reports regarding grow-related issues and how the City will cope will be presented later this year.

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