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New provincial rules for development charges could cost the city millions: Toronto officials

New provincial rules for what cities can charge developers that kick in Jan. 1 contain legal loopholes that could cost the city millions of dollars, Toronto officials say.

To try to prevent some of the potential problems introduced with the province’s sweeping Bill 108 legislation, Toronto’s city council on Wednesday approved measures the city’s chief planner Gregg Lintern described as a financial “bridge.”

A motion moved at council Wednesday by Mayor John Tory’s affordable housing advocate Coun. Ana Bailao (Ward 9 Davenport) asks the province to delay proclamation of changes to the development charges rules until January 2021 to give the city and province more time to work out any issues.

“Development charges ensure that needed infrastructure to support new developments are costs assumed by developers,” Bailao said in a statement. “Development must pay for development. On January 1st, 2020 the province will bring into force further provisions of Bill 108 dealing with development charges that could potentially create loopholes costing city taxpayers millions of dollars. We need to ensure that before any legislation comes into effect, we close any of these loopholes and protect the City and its taxpayers from having to bear these costs.”

On Thursday, in a letter to heads of council obtained by the Star, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said they would be going ahead with the changes to development charges as planned on Jan. 1 and reiterated that Bill 108 is meant to help speed up the creation of new housing amid a continuing crisis.

The bill, introduced earlier this year, is called the More Homes, More Choice Act. It amends 13 separate pieces of existing legislation, including the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act.

Municipal critics have said the need to build more housing shouldn’t and doesn’t need to come at the expense of building livable neighbourhoods.

Development charges are one of several tools cities have to ensure the principle is met that “growth pays for growth.” They are fees charged to developers to help pay the capital costs of roads, sewers, libraries and other infrastructure.

Bill 108 changed the timing of when development charges are due, from when building permits are issued to when the developer first makes a development application, which is much earlier in the process. The rate will also be frozen for two years after planning approvals are received.The rate will also be frozen for two years after planning approvals are received.

That, city staff said in a May report to council, could have “significant financial implications” for the city with developers avoiding rate increases by locking-in a rate earlier.

The new legislation also allows developers to defer full payment for several years on certain types of applications, such as for rental housing.

Deferred payment, the city staff report said, is “effectively an unsecured loan from municipalities to developers with potential municipal exposure to collection administration and risk.”

In his letter, the minister said the government has been consulting with municipalities and values their input.

“We recognize that municipalities may incur some additional costs as a result of these requirements, and, for that reason, the legislation provides authority for municipalities to charge interest to cover costs associated with the deferral and the freeze. In addition, a maximum interest rate will not be prescribed,” the letter says.

The motion approved by council Wednesday gave staff the authority, if the date of the new rules coming into force was not moved, to charge interest of 1.5 per cent per month for applications received on or after Jan. 1 with a goal of breaking even when compared to the old system.

It also asks staff to charge additional interest on applications where payment is deferred if the applicant doesn’t provide “satisfactory” financial security, such as a letter of credit.

“We understand where the province wants to get,” Bailao said. “We just need to make sure we work together on a process that gets us those results and avoids any unintended consequences. We will continue to work with the province on all aspects of this legislation to ensure growth is paying for growth and we are building great communities.”

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Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association, representing more than 1,500 industry members in the GTA, said they are aware of the motion and “consulting with legal council to determine its validity.”

“BILD and its membership are supportive of the spirit and intent of Bill 108. Freezing development charges at the time of the planning application allows for cost certainty and predictability for the end consumer when purchasing a new home or condo. This is entirely positive.”

With files from Robert Benzie

Jennifer Pagliaro
Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

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Success not measured by a provincial title, says former Cork boss John Meylers

That’s the shared view of John Meyler – who stood down as Cork manager last July – and Clare forward John Conlon, who can’t wait for the new season to begin.

Clare legend Brian Lohan has taken over the Banner reins. Photo: Sportsfile

Clare legend Brian Lohan has taken over the Banner reins. Photo: Sportsfile

He is back in training for a campaign where the Banner squad will be keen to redeem themselves after the massive disappointment of this year.

They started it with genuine All-Ireland ambitions after coming so close to reaching the 2018 final, but under-performed to such a degree in the Munster round-robin that they failed to make the top three.

That excluded them from the All-Ireland race, a setback which later led to a change of management with Brian Lohan replacing the Gerry O’Connor/Donal Moloney partnership.

“It was a very disappointing championship. We went in with high hopes and the management put a lot of responsibility on us to perform again after having a good year (2018). We played well enough against Waterford (Munster first round) but as management and as players, the Tipperary game kind of ran away from us.

Liam Cahill, new manager of Waterford. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Cahill, new manager of Waterford. Photo: Sportsfile

“And for the Limerick game, we just didn’t show up – they just blew us off the field. We got things wrong as players and management, we’d all admit that,” said Conlon, who is in Abu Dhabi with the PwC All-Stars.

Clare recovered impressively and beat Cork in the last game, but it wasn’t enough to keep them in All-Ireland contention.

“It’s very hard to get into the top three in Munster. It’s always a minefield and it will be an even bigger minefield next year with all the management changes,” he said.

Lohan (Clare), Kieran Kingston (Cork) and Liam Cahill (Waterford) are the three new bosses in a province which also hosts All-Ireland champions Tipperary and league winners Limerick.

Kieran Kingston is back at the Cork helm. Photo: Sportsfile

Kieran Kingston is back at the Cork helm. Photo: Sportsfile

Meyler didn’t seek a third year as Cork boss, handing over to Kingston who returns for a second stint.

“Kieran has gone back in again with a new management team. Ger Cunningham, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Pat Mulcahy – that will bring a huge emphasis on Cork being competitive again.

“The whole backroom team has been reorganised. That will all be a plus.

“They will tweak one or two things – tightening up the defence. Pat and Diarmuid will bring huge experience to that,” said Meyler.

He points to the 2018 All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Limerick as the biggest disappointment of his term, recalling how Cork blew a great chance. Their sense of loss compounded by Limerick going on to win the final.

“To go into the last eight minutes six points up and then to lose after extra-time was difficult, to say the least. We never really got it going as well again.

“In 2019, the performance against Tipperary (Munster first round) wasn’t really good enough. Then the performance against Limerick was super. So highs and lows – that was the story of the year,” he said.

Meyler remains a staunch advocate for retaining the Munster and Leinster championships, rather than changing to an open All-Ireland format, but accepts that winning a provincial title is no longer good enough to have a season deemed a success.

A selector under Kingston when Cork won the 2017 Munster Championship and manager a year later when they retained the title, he said they were fine achievements in such a competitive environment, but won’t be recalled as such because of the failure to land the All-Ireland title.

“You’re only judged now on winning All-Irelands. Look at Tipperary this year – they lost the Munster Championship, but it’s forgotten about. Limerick winning it is forgotten about too, even if they were really impressive at that time,” he said.

He expects the arrival of three new managers in Munster to increase the pressure on all counties next year.

“Margins are so tight. We’ve seen that since the new format came in. All five counties will fancy their chances of finishing in the top three next year,” he said.

Clare will hope Lohan’s impact in his debut season will give them added impetus and already Conlon is impressed by the new set-up.

“The last two weeks have been very enjoyable. We’ve done a lot of hurling and played a lot of games against one another. There’s a big panel in at the moment and it’s good to see a lot of lads back playing that maybe had taken breaks for the last few years,” he said.

The Clare panel were frustrated by the drawn-out process to find a new manager and are now determined to make up for lost time.

Conlon said that the players were as much in the dark as supporters, even if the public perception was different.

“You’d get that smile: ‘you’re joking me, you don’t know what’s going on?’ but we didn’t. It was frustrating at the time but it’s resolved now and we have our management team going forward and trying to do the best we can,” said Conlon.

The All-Stars party will play an exhibition game in Abu Dhabi today with Meyler and Liam Sheedy as managers.

In a break with tradition, the 27-strong squad features players from outside Tier 1 counties, including James Weir (Sligo), Edward Byrne (Carlow), Declan Coulter (Donegal), Patrick McKenna (Kildare) and Neil McManus (Antrim).

Irish Independent

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