Fort Erie development charges increase 35 per cent on single-detached homes

The cost to build homes in Fort Erie is going up.

New development charge (DC) rates have come into effect after councillors approved a staff report earlier this year. The bylaw updates generated from that report approval were passed at the March 4, 2024, meeting.

Development charges are meant to offset the increased costs associated with development, above and beyond the internal roads and infrastructure developers are already typically on the hook for.

On top of local DCs, the Region has its own fees for development. Between the two, the increases in Fort Erie put it at the top of the list in Niagara for most expensive place to build.

“How do we explain that to a developer?” asked Councillor Ann-Marie Noyes to Craig Binning, a consultant who worked on a DC study for the Town of Fort Erie, during a meeting earlier this year.

“Ten miles down the road it’s going to cost you this much, but here in Fort Erie it’s going to cost you this much.”

Binning said part of the reason for that is that other Niagara towns and cities are still using DC rates that were calculated years ago, before the full effects of COVID-19 and inflation were felt.

“It just happens that you’re going through this first,” he said, suggesting as other municipalities update their DC bylaws their rates will also increase.

The increases will mostly go into effect right away, with 80 per cent of the increase being felt in year one. That means for the local portion “a single-family residential home would rise from $21,878 to $36,890 with an 80 per cent phase-in rate of $29,512, or 35 per cent (in year one),” a report to council earlier this year read.

During DC discussions in January, Mayor Wayne Redekop sought ways to differentiate charges to encourage the building of more affordable homes. However, it’s a tricky line to walk due to provincial rules as well as Bill 23, where definitions related to affordable housing were still being refined as the consultants and staff developed their reports.

“We’re hearing loud and clear there shouldn’t be a difference on the basis of size, but what about on the basis of affordability?” he asked.

Binning said the Province was looking at exemptions for affordable housing and was developing definitions to inform it. However, he pointed out that any reduction in DC rates can’t be redirected to another built form, meaning that loss in revenue would potentially end up being put on the backs of taxpayers.

Different residential builds come with different DCs, with the single-detached and semi-detached category being the highest. Under the “multiples” category, the charge in year one is $21,415 per unit, while apartments with two or more bedrooms will come with a $19,679 year one charge. Bachelor or one-bedroom apartment charges are the lowest, at $12,735 per unit.

The new rules also increase the DCs for commercial space, from $85.05 per square metre to $117.53 this year and $146.91 per square metre when the phase-in is complete. Technically the new rules also introduce an industrial DC that matches the commercial rates. However, a granting program will allow developers of industrial spaces to recoup those dollars.

Staff said the new process both brings the Town’s bylaws into alignment regional charges and also gives the Town more flexibility should it choose to alter things down the road.

Stay Informed

Events, offers, contests, and breaking news, all delivered straight to your inbox.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *