BIG (and good news) on the Development Charges / Community Benefit Charges front!
As you know, development charges (or DCs) have been a tool for public libraries to fund growth-related capital costs, including buildings, renovations, and collections. Previously, these public library costs were considered “soft services” by the Development Charges Act. Unlike essential or “hard” services, such as roads or fire services, these were eligible for up to 90% cost recovery through development charges, with libraries or municipalities required to cover the remainder.
In the spring of last year, the Ontario Government passed the More Homes, More Choices Act, which created a new structure. Going forward, a limited number of fully cost-recoverable services – primarily hard infrastructure like roads and watermains and essential services like fire, police and ambulance – would remain eligible for DCs. All other previously eligible services, including public libraries, would be shifted to a new Community Benefits Charge that would also include other previous types of development-related fees, like density bonusing and parkland dedication.
Informed by the expert input of our public library members, FOPL (and OLA) took part in important consultations with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing to educate and explain the impact of the proposed changes and the risk to Ontario’s public libraries. We provided a series of reasonable recommendations intended to ensure that public libraries would not be negatively impacted by a move to the Community Benefits Charges regime.
Today, we’re pleased to share with you that the provincial government has listened and is taking action.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has posted for consultation its proposed next steps in launching the new Development Charge and Community Benefits Charge regime.
The Ontario Government is now proposing that capital costs for public libraries, including library materials for circulation, reference or information purposes, are to remain eligible to be funded under the Development Charges Act. Furthermore, these capital costs will now be eligible for full – rather than 90% – cost recovery through DCs.
I think that the following quote from Julia Merritt, FOPL Chair, says it best:
“As the collective voice of Ontario’s public libraries, the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL) applauds the Ontario Government’s proposal to include public library capital costs as a fully cost-recoverable eligible service under the Development Charges Act. We welcome the Ontario Government’s unequivocal recognition of the role that public libraries perform as critical community infrastructure in municipalities of all sizes across the province, and the importance of ensuring that municipalities are able to collect the development charges needed to help maintain strong, sustainable public libraries for current and future residents alike.”
The full regulatory proposal can be found at the following link – https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1406. I’ve included the most relevant section further below.
The consultation is open until March 30th. In addition to formal responses from FOPL and OLA, we will be seeking motions of support for your Public Library Boards to express support for this change.
2. Services Eligible to Be Funded Through Development Charges
The Development Charges Act provides authority for municipalities to impose development charges to pay for the increased capital costs of specific services that are needed as a result of new growth.
The services that are eligible to be funded through development charges are listed under subsection 2(4) of the Development Charges Act. The list includes a provision for other services that may be prescribed in regulation. The Planning Act stipulates that services funded by development charges may not be funded by community benefits charges.
When proclaimed, the More Homes, More Choices Act, 2019 will make waste diversion and ambulance services fully recoverable through development charges.
The government is proposing to prescribe additional services to be funded under the Development Charges Act, through regulation.
It is proposed that the following services would be identified in regulation under subsection 2(4) of the Development Charges Act:
- Public libraries, including library materials for circulation, reference or information purposes;
- Long-term care;
- Parks development, such as playgrounds, splash pads, equipment and other park amenities (but not the acquisition of land for parks);
- Public health; and,
- Recreation, such as community recreation centres and arenas.
Development charges may be imposed to fully recover the capital costs related to the provision of these proposed services due to new growth.”
These proposed services would be ineligible to be funded through community benefits charges.
In any case, this Ministry listened to your feedback through the surveys we provided and our FOPL/OLA advocacy efforts on your behalf.
Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLA
Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries