North Bay City Council has passed a bylaw eliminating development charges on residential development.
Mayor Al McDonald says he fully supports the three-year moratorium which he believes will level the playing field.
“The one thing we are not competitive on when it comes to building is homes. And that is what we are targeting. We want to see homebuilders build family homes for our citizens. But we are not eliminating development charges on the commercial sector,” said McDonald.
“There is no question you can say the taxes are a little bit lower in Callander and East Ferris and Powassan. But I think by the time you start factoring in travel costs, increased insurance costs, the fact that some communities do not have natural gas, I think when you do those comparisons, I think we can make a good case that North Bay is a very good place to build.”
In his presentation to city council North Bay developer John Wallace, president of Laurentian Heights Ltd. thanked council members for supporting the initiative.
“The outlying areas don’t have development charges, so when you have a development charge in North Bay, the charge is $10,000 to build a single-family home. That is an expense the builder must recover, that he doesn’t have to recover if he builds in the surrounding areas,” said Wallace.
Wallace says the number of new home builds in North Bay is not where it should be when compared to neighbouring communities.
“North Bay for its size is not getting its fair share. The outlying areas are getting far more than North Bay is and that is why we came to council. Council has an initiative to grow North Bay and we want to be there to support that initiative.”
The developer sees the bylaw as just the first step as they “collectively move forward in achieving the common goal of growing North Bay.”
Wallace asked for council’s support on two matters he says needs to be acted upon immediately.
“I think it is quite critical that we establish working groups so that we can measure whether we have been successful or not. And also, another working group that will work collectively to market and get building happening in North Bay.”
McDonald is already looking to city staff to bring their expertise to the table.
“I’m hoping our director of growth and community services along with our planning manager will meet with the homebuilder’s group and come up with a plan we can all get behind,” said McDonald.
“It is in our best interest to get as many builds as we can. I think it is a logical step to take, and I believe it should be staff working with the homebuilders and we as a city, we as a council, to promote North Bay as a great place to build homes and live.”