Two builders had a request to waive development charges related to residential projects in Owen Sound approved by city council.
Council approved the requests at its meeting Monday from Barry's Construction & Insulation and Graham Design & Construction on builds expected to have full occupancy late next year.
The resolution waived development charges of $246,772 to Barry's Construction for the transition of the former Strathcona School on 4th Avenue East into a 68-unit apartment complex; While Graham Design & Construction had development charges of $109,383 waived for its 19-unit residential life-lease project on 9th Avenue East.
It's expected the 68-unit apartment complex at the former Strathcona School will have occupancy by December 2020.
The life-lease development on 9th Avenue East is expected to have occupancy for three units by the end of 2019, with the remainder complete by summer 2020.
Director of Community Services Pam Coulter says both developments did not achieve timelines for the development charge holiday, requiring building permits issued by March 1, 2019.
Coulter says county council recently considered a similar request and opted for a deferral agreement with the developers to provide payment at the time of occupancy.
Deputy Mayor Brian O'Leary moved the motion to waive the fees, citing a recent resolution in which an extension was granted to the 39-unit Georgian Landing apartments being built on 18th Street East, near the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
"We need assessment. We need to get tax dollars coming in," O'Leary says. "I think these two projects are really good. And, I think we set a precedent with Georgian Landing and we're just following through."
Other alternatives council could have considered were to require the developers to provide payment, enter into a deferral agreement similar to the county or partially waive the charges.
Coun. Carol Merton was the lone holdout who voted against waiving the development charges.
"Since 2015, taxpayers and users of water and wastewater have provided financial input and supported infrastructure to enable (development charge) fees to be waived," Merton says. "I'm wondering if it is now time to say no to a deferral and extension, and time to implement the existing by-law and re-direct (fees collected) to the wastewater reserve."
"It is time to turn focus and attention back to taxpayer and user payer and reduce the burden they are paying."
Coun. Thomas, attending Monday's council meeting by phone, challenged Merton and says the focus of council has always been on the taxpayers throughout the process of having a development charge holiday.
"One of the ways you improve things for your taxpayers is by building assessments," Thomas explains. "The more we have coming into our community, the better it's going to be for our taxpayers."
The current development charge by-law covers March 1, 2015 to February 28, 2020.
Council had approved a development charge "holiday" to spur growth by waiving the fees for builders between 2015-2018, and again extended the period to March 1, 2019.
A report is expected to come to council this summer to begin reviewing and updating its development charge by-law.