By Ian Shalapata
(LEAMINGTON, ON) – It seems that Leamington mayor John Paterson has the development tiger by the tail.
In 2014, the municipality decided to test the elimination of development fees to spur investment in the city. Averaging just over $45 million a year in new investment since Paterson was first elected, that number grew first to $70 million in 2015, and then $140 million last year.
Working closely with developers, builders, realtors, and investors, Leamington implemented the plan to temporarily eliminate development charges. Always only intended as a tool to manage excessive growth, development fees have taken on the mantle as a revenue stream for municipalities and have stagnated growth in many cities, including Windsor.
Cornwall was first to cut development fees in Ontario and Leamington followed suit in 2014. According to Paterson, the numbers are, “… positive results from the decisions council made.”
An increase in property tax revenue would logically follow an increase in development and the expansion of the tax base. However, Paterson also says that some time is needed to determine the net effect of the fee elimination.
“We anticipate that there will be [a net revenue increase], but until buildings are completed, occupied, and valued by MPAC, we cannot as of yet determine those numbers with any accuracy,” he told The Square. “Council will continue on developing strategies to grow Leamington and make it the great place to live work and play that we all know it to be.”