Development Charges and City Planning Objectives: The Ontario Disconnect

By Tomalty, Ray; Skaburskis, Andrejs | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Development Charges and City Planning Objectives: The Ontario Disconnect


Tomalty, Ray, Skaburskis, Andrejs, Canadian Journal of Urban Research


Resume

Dans de nombreuses provinces au Canada, des redevances de developpement sont prelevees par les gouvernements municipaux afin de contribuer aux couts d'infrastructure associee a la croissance urbaine. Neanmoins, il n'y a pratiquement aucun effort pour structurer ces redevances afin d'atteindre les objectifs de la planification. Dans cet article, la divergence entre les objectifs fiscaux et ceux de la planification urbaine est demontree en analysant l'evolution des regimes de redevances de developpement dans le contexte d'une region urbaine particuliere, la Grande Region de Toronto en Ontario, Canada. Les auteurs posent la question suivante: pourquoi est-ce que tant de municipalites ont adopte des approches basees sur des couts moyens quand il est largement accepte qu'une approche basee sur les couts marginaux est meilleure du point de l'efficacite de l'infrastructure et de l'utilisation du sol (c'est-a-dire, la planification)?

Les raisonnements typiques avances pour expliquer cette preference sont analyses et on les trouve mal fondes. Une explication plus approfondie demande une comprehension du conflit entre les municipalites et les promoteurs concernant les principes impliques dans l'elaboration d'un regime de redevances de developpement. Ceci mene a une presentation de l'emergence des redevances de developpement en Ontario et du debat entre municipalites et promoteurs concernant qui devrait paye l'infrastructure pour appuyer la croissance. Ce compte-rendu historique montre un changement progressif dans les pratiques municipales pour le financement de l'infrastructure, allant d'une approche basee sur les couts marginaux ou specifique a chaque site (privilegiee par les promoteurs) a une approche basee sur les couts moyens ou calculee sur la base de tout le territoire de la municipalite (privilegiee par les municipalites.) Dans les conclusions, plusieurs facteurs qui sous-tendent cette evolution sont identifies.

Mots cles: La planification urbaine; Redevances de developpement; Infrastructure; Gestion la croissance urbaine; Instruments d'intervention fiscale

Abstract

In many provinces in Canada, development charges are collected by municipal governments to help pay for the capital costs associated with urban growth. Hardly anywhere, however, is there an attempt to structure development charges so as to achieve planning goals. This article examines the disconnect between fiscal and planning goals by tracking the evolution of development charge regimes in a particular urban region, namely the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. The authors pose the question: why do so many municipalities adopt average cost approaches to calculating development charges when it is widely assumed that a marginal cost approach is superior from an infrastructure and land-use efficiency (i.e., planning) perspective?

The typical explanations put forward to account for this preference are examined and found wanting. A fuller explanation requires an understanding of developer-municipal conflict over the principles involved in the design of development charges. This leads us to an account of the emergence of development charges in Ontario and the evolving debate between municipalities and developers over who should pay for the infrastructure needed to support growth. This story reveals that there has been a gradual shift in municipal infrastructure financing practices from a marginal cost or "site-specific" approach, favoured by developers, to an average cost or "municipal-wide" approach, favoured by municipalities. In the conclusions, a number of factors underlying this evolution are identified.

Key words: Land-use planning; Development charges; Infrastructure; Growth Management; Fiscal instruments

Introduction

This article discusses the difficulties in setting development charges as prices to cover the full social (external) cost of development. (1) It reviews Ontario's development charge legislation to show how practical concerns affect the design of schedules in ways that reduce their effectiveness as planning instruments. …

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