Town of Essex waives development fees for future growth

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Windsor Star/Lindsay Charlton


In an effort to boost development and attract investment, the Town of Essex has adopted a new bylaw that will waive development fees for the next five years.

Under the bylaw, development charges for all commercial, institutional and industrial developments will be waived in all areas of the municipality. This includes Harrow, Colchester, Essex and McGregor. 

“The Town’s new development charge bylaw strikes a balance of maintaining our competitiveness to attract investment while ensuring taxpayers do not bear the costs of servicing growth,” Essex Mayor Larry Snively said in a release.

Snively said development in Essex is doing well, with new subdivisions in the works. There is interest from a large commercial company to set up near Highway 3 in Essex but Snively said details of that potential development could not yet be disclosed.

Development charges — which are traditionally paid by new developments to help fund municipal infrastructure and services related to the growth for things like sewer pipes, road improvements and community facilities — will also be waived for affordable housing projects and apartment rental housing.

Because of lacklustre development in the Harrow area, Snively said council decided that all residential development charges in Harrow will be waived until the end of 2021, and increase by 25 per cent annually thereafter.

“As far as residential in the town of Harrow, we had zero growth there in I would say the last five to 10 years,” Snively said. “With the zero per cent development fees in Harrow, we have probably two subdivisions that are going to start up here very shortly.”

There are now more incentives for residential developers in Harrow.

“It’s the same bylaw we had last year,” Snively said. “The only thing, we tried 50 per cent in the past in Harrow — so we went zero per cent again this year and it looks like it’s going to work this time.”

The news release said the bylaw comes after several months of public meetings and discussions with stakeholders. The municipality worked with Watson & Associates, a consulting firm which has worked on development charge bylaws throughout the province. 

“I would just watch Essex and Harrow area grow … we are developing very quickly at the present time,” Snively said.

Other communities have taken similar steps to entice growth, LaSalle waived development fees in the past for apartment buildings, retirement homes and commercial developments, for example, and waived development charges are part of incentives for Windsor’s community improvement plan downtown.