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LETTER: The tax cost of growth (updated)

When you hear the old slogan, “Growth will pay for growth,” don’t believe it
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(Editor's note: The following letter has been updated from a previous version with updated figures.)

GuelphToday received the following Letter to the Editor from Susan Watson concerning growth and property tax:

We all care about our property tax bills. That’s why we should care about the Development Charges By-Law update meetings now at Guelph City Council.

What’s the connection?

Development charges are fees paid by developers to finance roads, sewer pipes, libraries, etc. that their projects require. 

When you hear the old slogan, “Growth will pay for growth,” don’t believe it. Over the next 10 years, we citizens will subsidize development in Guelph with $122 million dollars of public money.

The government of Mike Harris did that. His Conservative government arbitrarily limited what municipalities could collect from developers. It was a staggering gift to developers and a rip-off for us. Ford is about to make it worse. Like Harris, he preaches fiscal responsibility and lower taxes. Say one thing. Do the opposite. That seems to work.

The final hit this budget season? Guelph city staff are telling our councillors they need to hike taxes an additional $1.25 million every year for the next 10 years.  An extra $10.23 million is needed to cover the minimum $50 million tax portion of the development charge shortfall.  The true cost of growth has already been hiding in your tax bill, now you’re going to get another 1.25% increase in your tax rate for a decade, before anything else has been paid for.

And developers are coming to council with the old threat that housing will be “unaffordable” if they have to contribute another penny to cover the costs of servicing their highly profitable projects, or another hectare of public park land.

The line has to be drawn. How are fixed-income seniors supposed to swallow this? Why should any of us swallow it?

If you care about your tax bill, or value for money, tell your councillors two things:

1. We should be seeking as much money as the Development Charge formulas will allow us. Call it “Maximum Harris.” It's rightfully ours.

2. Park land is the other side of your coin. Already being fleeced for tens of millions for development, we should not accept anything less from developers than the maximum parkland or cash for parks allowed under the Planning Act. Call it “Maximum Parks for People.” It's also rightfully ours.

If we settle for less, we are fools. I'm beginning to think they count on that.