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Give developers a small break

(Cartoon by George Longley)

It’s fair to say that most of us don’t enjoy handing over more money to any level of government.

Every year around budget time, residents roll their eyes when the city lays out a tax increase, and we all  grit our teeth when we see how much the province and federal governments take from our pay cheques.

It’s said there are two constants in life – death and taxes – but for members of the building industry, you can add one more to that list – development charges.

The City of Oshawa recently updated its development charge by-law, and will impose a number of increases on July 1.

These increases range from 20 per cent to almost 50 per cent.

Developers were obviously not overly pleased with this, and appealed to council for the increases to be phased in over time.

However, by doing this, the city would have deferred upfront revenue which is used to help pay for services such as water and waste, roads and transportation, and emergency services.

It was made clear to council if they gave the developers a bit of a break, it will likely come down to having to ask more from the taxpayers, with estimates of $3 to $10 million thrown around.

Despite numbers that show house sales are increasing, some developers say this is mostly due to transactions involving older houses, and the market is soft.

Costs of development have also “gone through the roof,” one member of the Durham Region Home Builders Association told council.

Council should have met the builders somewhere in the middle. Residents would be enraged if fees for services jumped 30 to 40 per cent in a month, so it’s hard not to sympathize with the building      community.

While it’s difficult to compare the finances of a multi-million dollar company to those of the average resident, a phase-in period of one-year, with incremental increases in January and July 2020, would be appropriate. There is a saying that “growth pays for growth,” but there is always exceptions to every rule.