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Developer offers surcharge to get subdivision moving

by Patrick Raftis

MAPLETON - A local developer eager to see the municipality expand its water and sewage capacity to end a development freeze is willing to contribute financially to a solution.

Representatives of Glenaviland Development Corporation (GDC) attended the June 27 Mapleton council meeting to indicate the company is open to working with council and contributing funding assistance for proposed wastewater capacity and water service upgrades.

“Our proposed contribution would be through a ‘special surcharge’ development charge, paid for by GDC, on a per lot basis as future building permits are issued. This special surcharge would be in addition to the current development charges as set out by the township,” states a written proposal from GDC president Fred Prior.

The company has a registered plan of subdivision for 88 single family homes and 101 town homes and condos on 30 acres of a 118-acre property. The plan was approved in December of 2013.

Design, zoning and environmental approvals have been in place since 2012 for a planned golf course, club house and golf academy on the remaining 88-acre parcel.

However the project has been in a holding pattern as no wastewater or water service capacity has been available.

At one point, a plan to utilize the golf course as a location to spread effluent from the municipal sewage treatment plant was under consideration.

However, the authors of a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) conducted to evaluate alternatives to expand the capacity of the Mapleton Wastewater Treatment Plant did not recommend the township proceed with the plan.

GDC officials noted timelines for a capital project for an upgrade of the wastewater plant and water service capacity presented at a stakeholder meeting in September of 2013 were “particularly positive and encouraging.”

However, they stated, “like all previous meetings regarding this critical project, the approximate 18-month timeline for the projects to come on stream have come and gone.”

While recognizing a number of hurdles and approvals are required to move the project forward, the company requested council “find a way to move ahead … without further delays.”

To date all 45 of Glenaviland’s lots with allocated sewage and water capacity in the Drayton Ridge subdivision have been sold. Forty homes are completed, sold and occupied, while the remaining lots are sold or under construction.

“We’ve sold our last lot and … the builders have built on everything that can be built upon,” Prior told council, adding the development’s future relies on obtaining further allocations.

While interest has remained strong from builders, the company is concerned that could waver with future delays.

“We want to be able to keep that momentum. If we don’t, then we put the project on hold and we start all over again sometime in the distant future. I think you should know that,” said Prior.

“We’ve had, in the last year, a tremendous amount of contact of people from as far as the GTA, certainly from the Oakville, Hamilton, Ancaster and the London area to come build here in Drayton.

“A lot of people thought it was very foolish in the beginning, what we set out to do, but it’s proven that plans that we set were certainly worth it and the only hurdle that we have now is the sewage and water capacity.”

“Nothing would please me more than to see 140 houses being built up there,” said councillor Marlene Ottens, who asked for more details on how the surcharge would work.

“Basically that’s a conceptual idea that we wanted to bring to you for discussion and fine tune it,” explained Prior. “That would be our way of giving you some relief to the total capital cost … We get capacity. We get the building permits.”

Prior explained the builder would pay the regular development charges on each home and Glenaviland would pay the surcharges.

Councillor Lori Woodham questioned if the surcharge would allow the township to authorize building.

“It’s not money that’s holding this back is it? Is it not more approval from MOE and everyone else? Would an influx of money right now give us the ability to issue building permits?” she wondered.

CAO Brad McRoberts noted the EA for the water and sewage projects is currently under review by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

“So our EA isn’t even finalized yet,” said McRoberts, adding the retirement of a key contact at the MOE has delayed the approval.

“Once we have buy-in from the EA standpoint then we can proceed to design and implementation,” he said.

However, the CAO pointed out council has stated it would not proceed with the capital projects unless it receives some third party funding. He noted the surcharge offer may qualify as part of that funding, but the township has also applied for various funding opportunities from upper tier governments.

McRoberts said he wasn’t sure if the proposed surcharge would be allowed under the township’s development charges bylaw, but offered to check into it.

“Is this typical? It would take so long with the MOE?” asked Ottens.

“It is typical,” McRoberts replied, noting it can take several years to get the process through the ministry level.

“We’ve made great strides,” he stated. “We’re at a point now that, unfortunately, the one person in the MOE that reviews these things has suddenly retired.”

McRoberts said one of the first priorities for a new director of finance, when the township has one in place, will be to create a funding plan for the water and wastewater projects.

The township has been actively searching for a new finance director since April, when Mayor Neil Driscoll confirmed former finance director Yufang Du was “no longer with the Township of Mapleton.”

Du had not been on active duty for several months prior to that. Driscoll told the Community News on  Feb. 15 that Du had been “off sick” for the past few weeks.

“I’m sure council is committed to moving this project forward as soon as we can get our EA completed and we get our director of finance in place to get back to us with a plan how to pay for it,” stated Driscoll, who asked how long it would take to complete the development if capacity were available.

Prior replied that if the momentum continues, “we’d be built out within eight years.”

Driscoll noted the slow pace of the approval and funding process isn’t the municipality’s preferred approach.

“We would like to meet with them today, they’d get back to us tomorrow and say ‘okay here’s how you get some funding,’ but it’s just months and weeks in between,” he said.

“But I do think this council honestly has brought this project along further than it’s been in 16 years - I will say that - and we intend to have this done as soon as we can.”

Prior asked about earlier indications building permits might be approved based on “interim capacity,” once the municipality committed to completing the sewage and water system upgrades.

“Unfortunately for us we lost our ministry lead to retirement and had to start all over and that’s where that all got lost,” Driscoll explained.

Driscoll told the Glenaviland representatives “we appreciate the professionalism of your group,” and noted staff would look into the feasibility of utilizing the proposed surcharge to aid in funding the project.

Driscoll said the township would contact the developers as soon as the EA process is finalized.

 

July 14, 2017

 
 

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