Janice Visneskie of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, Dick Rabishaw of Laurentian Hills and Harold Weckworth of North Algona Wilberforce opposed Renfrew County’s proposed increases for planning fees.
But they were the only opponents, as the new tariff of fees was easily passed and became part of the county’s 2013 budget.
All other county councillors at the Jan. 23 portion of the two-day budget workshop supported the county’s first planning-fees increases since 2006.
Not present to vote were Madawaska Valley Mayor Dave Shulist and Horton Mayor Don Eady, who was recovering from surgery.
The table of fees presented to county council included comparative charges by 10 counties for consent applications, zoning bylaw amendments and official plan amendments.
The biggest discussion focused on the $35 hike, from $565 to $600 for consent applications, even though the proposed increase represented the lowest fee increase for planning applications, at 6.2 per cent.
Recirculation fees are rising 17.6 per cent, from $34 to $40. Title validations are rising 8.7 per cent, from $460 to $500. Official plan amendments (OPA) will now cost $450, instead of $425; zoning bylaw amendments (ZBA) are rising 12 per cent, from $290 to $325; and a combined OPA and ZBA application is rising 10.2 per cent, from $635 to $700.
The chart profiling other counties’ planning fees showed a lowest consent-application fee of $500 in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The highest costs were in Haldimand County, which charges $1,000 for a minor consent application and $1,500 for a major consent application.
The lowest OPA charges were Renfrew County’s $425. The highest fees were the combined OPA and ZBAs charged by Haldimand County and Norfolk County, at well above $2,000.
“We need to entice people to come here (to Renfrew County) … I agree with many of them (the proposed fees) but not the increase for consent applications,” said Visneskie.
“If I was to give anyone a break, I’d want to see lower costs on the consents,” said McNab-Braeside Mayor Mary Campbell, “and give people a break on OPAs and ZBAs.”
Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, who chairs the county’s property and development committee, says the fee review showed the hikes were not excessive and that he had “never heard that the current figures were a barrier to building.”
“Maybe you didn’t hear about it, but I sure do,” said Visneskie.
Weckworth said county councillors really should be trying to promote development, and that the higher fees were “the wrong way to go.”
Arnprior Reeve Walter Stack supported property and development director Paul Moreau’s motion to approve all of the new fees.
But first Stack said local development is slowing and that if the proposed fees were a hindrance to development, he had no problem giving a break to smaller municipalities.
In supporting the proposed fees, CAO Jim Hutton said there is a “significant amount of work” involved in preparing official-plan and zoning-bylaw amendments.
“I don’t see any of our (Whitewater) residents having a problem with the new fees,” said Whitewater Region Reeve Don Rathwell.
Moreau’s motion to pass the tariff of fees was supported by a weighted vote of 123-20.
Hourly rates will also change, by $4 or $5, or by 7.7 to 14.2 per cent.
Those fee changes are: director of planning, $65 to $70; manager, $55 to $60; senior planning, $45 to $50; GIS technician, $35 to $40; junior planner $35 to $40; and administrative assistant, $31 to $35.
There were 237 severance applications in the county last year.
The most were in Madawaska Valley, Killaloe, Hagarty & Richards, Greater Madawaska, and North Algona Wilberforce. The least were in Brudenell, Lyndoch & Raglan, Laurentian Hills and Petawawa.