North Grenville council passed a resolution at their last meeting to extend the development charges exemption for the downtown core. Council first passed the development charges exemption bylaw on November 19, 2019, as a way to promote development in Kemptville’s downtown. The bylaw was put in place for one year, and the option to cancel or extend it was brought to council at the meeting of October 6. The report prepared by Acting Director of Planning and Development, Amy Martin, recommended that the bylaw not be extended, suggesting that it was not an effective way to stimulate development, as only one permit for a single detached dwelling benefitted from the exemption. The report also noted that development charges are an important funding source to support infrastructure in the municipality, to take the burden off the general tax base.
Despite Director Martin’s report, CAO Gary Dyke suggested that council consider extending the bylaw. He said that, taking into consideration a number of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t think that the municipality was able to glean the metrics needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the development charges exemption. He recommended that council extend the exemption with the caveat that they also look into creating a more robust Community Improvement Plan (CIP), which would work with the exemption to further incentivize investment in the downtown core.
Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman agreed that more research is needed to fully understand the impact of the development charges exemption, and that a more robust CIP is crucial for creating further incentives for homebuilders and developers. He also mentioned that the municipality should invest in some marketing to get the word out that the exemption is available. “The BIA has done a fantastic job trying to get the message out; but I think, with the help of the municipality’s reach, we could do a lot more together,” he said. “I’m looking forward to really digging in a little deeper on this.”
At the Deputy Mayor’s suggestion, council passed a resolution to extend the development charges exemption for the downtown until March, 2023. This will give them another 30 months to evaluate the effectiveness of the program with the new and improved CIP, which will be developed next year. Mayor Peckford believes that, with an eager Community and Economic Development Advisory Committee, a highly motivated BIA, and the expertise of their CAO, the municipality will be able to come up with an innovative plan to use the development charges exemption and the CIP to further develop the downtown. “The downtown should not, and cannot, wait and we are doing out part to create incentives with the updated CIP tools so that good things can happen in what is already a wonderful space and place to do business,” she said.