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Niagara Falls
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Waiver aims to protect town from development fee refunds
Director of planning Kirsten McCauley explains how the town can move forward with developers without being penalized for missing decision deadlines. EVAN LOREE

The town is hoping a new waiver it’s created will protect it from future financial penalties if it fails to make decisions on development proposals in time.

The waiver would be presented to developers in cases when the municipality is not able to process applications before provincial deadlines pass, Kirsten McCauley, the community and development services director, told council at a meeting on Dec. 5. 

If signed, the waiver would prevent developers from requesting refunds on project application fees.

This would allow staff to work with developers past decision deadlines on project proposals and give them enough time to recommend options to council, McCauley said.

The provincial government introduced a refund system under Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act, which came into effect on July 1 this year. 

The town must respond to every development application within set deadlines, which vary depending on the application.

If the town is a day late, it owes 50 percent of the application fee back to the developer, according to a staff report attached to the meeting agenda.

This rate rises to 100 per cent the longer it takes the town to make a decision.

Spokesperson Marah Minor later told The Lake Report the refunds would be problematic for the town’s budget and would force the town to make up for its losses “through alternative funding sources.”

Coun. Gary Burroughs raised some concern over the potential efficacy of the waiver as a tool for the municipality.

“Why would any developer agree to such a waiver?” he asked.

McCauley said some applicants would be “willing to continue to work with the town and not request the refund.”

The town would reach out to applicants to “determine potential interest” in signing the waiver, Minor later told The Lake Report.

McCauley said Staff could recommend council reject projects in cases where developers refused to sign the waiver, McCauley said.

The town could also use holding provisions to make developers address concerns before moving forward with them, she added.

Holding provisions can be applied to lots to prevent development from moving forward until certain conditions are met.

McCauley told council other towns are starting to introduce similar waivers.

“The waiver does not necessarily indicate that council needs to make a decision in favour of an application,” she added.

Council voted unanimously to give McCauley the power to sign the waiver with developers on behalf of the town.

evanloree@niagaranow.com

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