MNBP Reporter’s Notebook: Proposed County Development Charge Aggravates Stakeholders

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By John Francis, Bruce Peninsula Press

The Agenda for Northern Bruce Peninsula Municipal Council’s September 11 Meeting will begin with a delegation from Bruce County, in support of the proposed implementation of County Development Charges (D.C.s). The presentation will be made by Bruce County’s Director of Corporate Services, Edward Henley. The Agenda includes a 276-page report from Bruce County, supporting and explaining the Development Charges.

The proposed Development Charge for a single-family dwelling will be $7,665. It appears that this money will go straight to the County, to defray County expenses.

MNBP reaction to this, on social media and private conversations, has not been favourable. Perhaps the most succinct comment came from Facebook: “There’s already a distinct lack of affordable housing, building costs are up, inflation, interest rates, high cost of vacant land etc. Adding another $7,660 just for the privilege of breaking ground can only serve to guarantee even less opportunity for housing. Bad idea all around.”

According to the 10-page Executive Summary: “D.C.s provide for the recovery of growth-related capital expenditures from new development.”

People are asking — What expenditures are those? The Executive Summary provides an answer: $6,302 (82%) of that is for “Services Related to a Highway” which would appear to refer to County Roads — it can’t be Highway 6 which is entirely funded by Ontario. That seems a little rich for MNBP, given that the County road system doesn’t extend north of Ferndale. The nearest County road is a half hour’s drive away if you live in Tobermory. 

The second largest amount in the list of expenses is Long-Term Care Services at $910 (12%). There are no County long-term care facilities in MNBP. The nearest one is in Wiarton. MNBP does have a LTC facility — Golden Dawn in Lion’s Head — but it does not get County support.

Parks and Recreation Services gets $96 (1.5%). That budget includes the County Museum in Southampton. But the Museum in Tobermory gets no County support at all.

Opponents of the new charge point out that most of the things it will pay for are of little or no use to MNBP residents.

Municipal Councillor Smokey Golden is not in favour of the County Development Charge. 

She already had questions about “the approximately $7 million we send to the county in collected taxes.” She wants to know “How does our sending development charges to the county assist the municipality in providing much-needed services such as sewers, water and roads? Or do they at all?”

In an interview, Councillor Golden explained that what she wants “is a financial accounting of the money that goes from MNBP to Bruce County and what comes back”. She doesn’t care how much Bruce County spends on roads, for example — she wants to know how much Bruce County spends on the few County roads it operates in MNBP.

She is pretty sure that the Development Charge is going to happen, no matter what, but she’s not happy about it. “How does this benefit us? How does it benefit development here?” She pauses a moment to organize a summary. “How does this assist the municipality in fostering the development of large-scale housing?”

If you are interested in following this story, the September 11 MNBP Council Meeting will be available as a video recording on the municipality’s YouTube channel. Go to the MNBP home page (northbrucepeninsula.ca) and select “Council and Committees” under the “Government” tab at the top of the page. The “Council and Committees” main page offers a link to the YouTube channel. The County delegation re: Development Charges is the second item; it should begin relatively early in the Meeting.

“County Seeks Public Input on 2024 Budget Priorities”

There’s a link on the Bruce County Home Page (brucecounty.ca) to a survey about 2024 budget priorities. (see article on page 3)

Several people have approached me to draw attention to this survey. The people don’t want me to use their names — they found the survey difficult to understand and even more difficult to answer. Many gave up and did not complete it.

But as one of them pointed out: “That survey is all we’ve got. If we don’t fill it out, they won’t know how dissatisfied we are”.

The survey asks respondents to choose priorities among a list of things but most found it difficult to answer. Is housing a priority? It depends — do you mean here in MNBP or somewhere else? Are museums a priority? Is that our museum or your museum? How important is Long Term Care? Do they mean Golden Dawn? Probably not. How important are “income support” and “employment services”? You mean Bruce County does income support and employment services? Who knew!

Several people urged me to publicize this (frustrating) survey so that residents can tell the County how poor their communications are and how neglected MNBP taxpayers feel.