Belleville council appeals to Ontario government for housing bill relief

Belleville City Hall. – Photo by Hollie Pratt-Campbell/Hometownist

Belleville City Council addressed the financial implications of recent provincial housing legislation, expressing significant concerns over revenue losses due to Bills 108, 109, and 23.

Councillor Paul Carr led council’s discussion during the May 27 council meeting, emphasizing the need for provincial support to mitigate these impacts. The central focus was the financial burden imposed by housing-related legislation, particularly on development charges and municipal revenue.

Councillor Carr presented a detailed report outlining substantial revenue losses due to changes in development charge regulations. The estimated losses include $1.3 million in 2023 due to Bill 109 adjustments, and $1.7 million projected for 2024 from Bill 108 provisions.

“Nonetheless, we continue to overachieve on our on our housing starts. And it looks like that will continue in 2024,” Coun. Carr said.

As explained by Carr and through documentation presented to the council by staff, the above changes stem from various legislative mandates, such as freezing development charge rates at the time of site plan filing, deferring payments, and exempting certain types of housing from these charges. For example, the city estimates annual losses of approximately $850,000 from accessory dwelling units and nearly $394,000 from deferred development charges.

To counter these financial setbacks, Councillor Carr proposed an amendment to request financial aid from the Ontario government formally. The motion calls for $1,081,000 in immediate funding to cover revenue losses in 2023 and establish a program beyond the current Building Faster Fund to compensate municipalities for future revenue losses due to housing legislation.

“Based on an average historical unit count, approximately $150,000 in lost development charge revenue annually plus the annual indexing thereafter. So for 2024, the estimate is $149,500, and loss revenue and potential annual future estimates are around $161,500. So when you add those up this year alone, because of Bill 108,109, and 123, our municipality is actually at $1,081,000.

Council unanimously approved the motion, which includes sending a letter to Premier Doug Ford and local members of provincial parliament (MPPs), urging them to address these financial challenges. The letter also calls for support from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

Council also directed staff to create a funding program from the Building Faster Fund to inform municipalities about future revenue losses from the bills.

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