Burlington to lower fees to get more housing built

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Published May 21, 2024 at 4:41 pm

housing Burlington condo Ontario

Burlington councillors unanimously voted to decrease development charges, typically paid by builders to pay for municipal services needed for new residential and commercial properties, to build more housing faster. 

The vote was passed at a May 21 council meeting and a new bylaw outlining the new charges will come into effect on June 1. 

According to a press release issued by the West End Home Builders’ Association, the city is decreasing per unit DCs by about $1,500–something the association called an “unprecedented move” that “demonstrates a clear recognition on behalf of the city and council, that to address the housing crisis, all levels of government need to reduce taxation and other costs to build new homes.” 

In a news release issued after the city signalled its plan to decrease DCs at a recent committee meeting, the association said the move could help the city reach its goal of building 29,000 new housing units over the next decade, which could go towards alleviating the province-wide housing crisis that has led to high demand and low (and costly) supply. 

The organization also said the move could help the city secure funding from higher levels of government to build more housing. 

“The cost of development charges has a significant impact on housing affordability as these taxes are passed onto people buying or renting homes. Typically, municipalities increase their development charge rates every five years; however, Burlington is showing leadership in a housing crisis and has decided to do the exact opposite,” West End HBA CEO Mike Collins Williams said in a statement. 

In a news release, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said the reduction in DCs will be achieved by city staff removing projects that will not be started within the time frame of the new bylaw and require upper-level government approvals and funding that has not been received. 

“Should the status of these projects change, we can reopen the bylaw or add the projects to a future bylaw,” she wrote. 

“Removing these projects ensures today’s homebuyers aren’t saddled with inter-generational expenses that may not be realized.” 

Meed Ward praised city staff and said the city needs to be adaptable to address the ongoing housing crisis. 

“This decision is based on evidence and data provided to us by city staff and I want to commend them for their ambitious and quick work on this file. We need to be nimble and flexible as a municipal government in order to address the changing landscape of the housing crisis,” she wrote. 

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