So, is this it? Truly? What are we going to do if council actually approves tonights Ward Boundary Review and takes away our perennial go-to topic here on ScaleDown Radio? I shudder to think.
Luckily, I am penning this post AFTER the council meeting, so I am not only going to give you a teaser for todays radio show, but also a wrap-up of the council meeting. So, here goes…
We did our predictions on how the voting would round out pertaining to the WBR (we ALL got it wrong!) and discussed the ramifications of wholesale electoral change. I must say - I like it!
As well, on tonights council agenda is the Interim Development Charges By-Law. Dry? Yes, but incredibly relevant. When you think of how much of our city and quality of life is affected by this issue, we really needed to address it. Speaking of addressing it, here’s my presentation to council last night;
The idea of development charges are one of those subjects, much like tonight’s ward boundary review, that tend to make people’s eyes glaze over when they come up in conversation.And much like the ward boundary review, when the topic is explored a little deeper, the light bulbs begin to turn on.
I am not here tonight to debate whether or not the interim development charge by-law should be enacted. It should. There’s only one thing worse than not collecting enough development charges and that is not collecting any at all.
I am here to speak to the make-up of councils Development Charge Task Force and how, as it is currently proposed, Windsor could be missing out on a great opportunity of moving further down the road to sustainability.
Progressive communities across the continent are using Development Charges to shape their municipalities in ways that better prepare themselves for a brighter future, all while opening up new development opportunities for their citizens engaged in land development.
• Reducing Development charges closer to the town centre where the cost of providing infrastructure is much less than at the periphery
• Reducing Development Charges in designated areas to encourage development that is able to support transit, a district energy system or a geo-exchange heating system.
• Reducing the Development charge per unit for high density development to reflect the efficiency in providing infrastructure to higher density development compared to low density because of the shorter distribution distances.
• And reducing Development charges for subdivision of small lots that are designed to result in low greenhouse gas emissions and development that is designed to result in low environmental impact.
The BC Climate Action Toolkit suggest that Development Charges can provide a financial incentive for compact growth. Flat-rate Development charges have been the traditional approach, can encourage large lots and less compact development, but by varying Development charges by lot size, size of units or by
location, local governments can encourage infill development, contiguous development and compact growth
The West Coast Environmental Law organization states that utilizing progressive
development charges will result in:
• Major savings in overall road and servicing network costs for urban development in compact, complete communities, especially where development is in the form of infill and densification in established areas with existing unused servicing capacity;
• Minor savings in local servicing networks if projects incorporate high performance building features that reduce water requirements, sewage flows and storm run-off;
• Potential major savings in municipal-wide networks from reduced service demands associated with high performance design.
• Reduced requirements for new water supply and storage, sanitary treatment capacity and municipal stormwater systems could generate significant savings;
• As well, that the infrastructure savings due to smart growth planning and high performance design could easily be in excess of $5,000 per residential unit in many communities.
It is our belief that the members of your Development Charges Task Force, as it is currently comprised, may not place as high a priority on these aspects of development charges. We believe that since the issue of development charges will affect the community as a whole, as opposed to simply Windsor’s development community, the make-up of the Development Charges Task Force should include other members of the community who have a deeper understanding of the long-term benefits of a properly crafted Development Charges By-Law.
We recognize that Windsor’s development community will play a major role in any future success stories we may collectively celebrate. We simply want the rules changed in ways where they may earn a good living practicing the crafts they have proven themselves exemplary at while working towards making Windsor a more livable, sustainable and vibrant community.
So, to tell you something that you already knew; councillors voted unanimously to adopt a Valentinis-lead 10 ward hybrid (which, as the Windsor Star reports, Dilkens isn’t happy with), as well as voting unanimously to add two citizen members to their DC Task Force. It was a great night, and we actually went out for a celebratory beer afterwards.
Which is a very rare occurance after a Windsor City Council meeting!
All this - AND MORE - on today’s ScaleDown Radio!
So kick back and enjoy!
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ScaleDown Radio is broadcast live every Monday from noon until 1:00 on CJAM 91.5 FM, redefining radio in Windsor and Detroit.