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Development fees will destroy growth in Sarnia

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:44 -- Chris Cooke
house under construction

According to Bill Dennis it is the theory of diminishing returns. That’s how he describes a proposal to double development fees in the City.

Dennis, who claims he made “a fortune” selling houses in Corunna says a proposal from Toronto – based Watson and Associates to increase development fees from $8,000.00 to $18,000.00 in most of Sarnia is “ridiculous”.

In fact, the $50,700.00 report recommends fees as high as $37,500.00 in some parts of the City. “We are going to shoot ourselves in the foot,” says Dennis who is a local real estate broker.

“If we want to kill demand just do what this guy (Watson) is recommending”.

Dennis asks “why would homebuyers spend 20% more to purchase a house in Sarnia and then be saddled with higher taxes?”

In the Watson report the proposed increases are explained by previously unsupported services like police, parking and public works. City officials have also indicated a need to have water mains, roads and pumping stations added on top of the development fees to support future growth.

Watson estimates Sarnia will grow by about 1000 people over the next 13 years.

Sarnia homebuilders who say the City lacks build – ready lots have expressed concern about the consultant’s report.

Former Councillor Matt Mitro says there isn’t enough money in the tax base to maintain existing services let alone new services.

Dennis, who is being charged with Code of Conduct violations by Mitro says the former Councillor “doesn’t know what he is talking about. If we do what is being proposed here we are closing the door on new development”.

Saying Sarnia’s competition is to the south, Dennis wants police, parking and public works removed from the proposed development bylaw. While he admits there are fewer services in Corunna, Dennis says “if we don’t compete fewer homes will be built in the City”.

Mayor Mike Bradley says the numbers in the Watson report are concerning. He says he has had discussions with local developers and they are all concerned as well.

“We will have to phase this in or face the consequences”.

Dennis says “the drive from Corunna is a short distance and builders there find it easy to compete with builders in Sarnia”

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