Building of new homes in Shelburne to pause under Bill 23 as funding for wastewater plant gets slashed

January 27, 2023   ·   1 Comments

By Paula Brown 

Shelburne council is delaying the tendering and construction of a new Wastewater Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) as they navigate financial constraints related to Bill 23.

During their meeting on Monday (Jan. 23), council received a report from chief administrative officer (CAO) Denyse Morrissey and town planner Steve Wever on the potential impacts of Bill 23. 

“It’s critical for us to make the province aware of the impact of the development charges as it relates specifically to our waste treatment plant and therefore the capacity to expand,” said Morrissey. 

Bill 23, also known as the More Homes Built Faster Act, is a piece of legislation introduced by the Ford government in November that makes changes such as reducing municipal development charges to increase the speed of housing development. 

The reduction in development charges collected by municipalities under Bill 23 is a significant constraint for the Town of Shelburne, as they plan for a new Wastewater Pollution Control Plant. 

In 2020, Shelburne council received a report from the municipality’s contracted engineer S. Burnett & Associates Limited, on the construction of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the wastewater plant. Council approved $2 million in funding in May of 2021 for the design of the expansion. 

A new Wastewater Pollution Control Plant is a pressing issue since the town has reached the capacity of its existing plant. 

The upgrades to the wastewater plant are estimated to cost between $33 and $34 million, with a significant amount of the cost initially planned to be supported through development charges. 

“We do not have the financial capacity and nor will we have the financial capacity to ever borrow $30 million,” said Morrissey. 

Like many municipalities, the Town of Shelburne has operated under the principle that ‘growth pays for growth’, and a primary tool for implementing the principle is through development charges.

Wever noted that with reduced development charges, the question becomes – where will the funding to build the waste treatment plant and other infrastructure that supports housing development come from? 

“It basically falls back on taxpayers, and the potential to either cut services or hold services off,” said Coun. Lindsay Wegener. 

Wever also noted the impacts of delaying the construction of the Wastewater Pollution Control Plant. 

“What’s at risk here is that without the infrastructure, we could be reaching a stalemate on housing for several years,” said Wever. “After the Fieldgate subdivision is completed there’s really not any big residential project that can move forward after until the service and capacity has a definitive timeline and is funded.” 

According to the report to council, nearly 2,000 planned and proposed residential units are dependent on the construction of the new Wastewater Pollution Control Plant. 

These developments include:

  • Emerald Crossing/Shelburne 89 Developments Ltd – 60 units
  • 416, 428, 428 Main St. W (Shelburne West) – 179 units
  • 501-505 Main St. West (Shelburne West) – 74 + 50 future phase units
  • 124 Owen Sound Street – 44 units 
  • Shelburne Meadows – Hwy. 89 & 4th Line (Flato) – 93 + 463 future phase units
  • 434 Main Street West – 38 units 
  • DiPoce Lands (East of 4th Line -Shelburne West) – 250+ units
  • Southbridge New Retirement Home – 128 beds 
  • Intensification Potential within Built-up Area – 513 units 

“You already have 1,764 new homes in application and proposals that we already know about so that doesn’t even count other projects that may come to light over the next 10, 15, 20 years,” said Wever. 

While the new Wastewater Pollution Control Plant is the most prevalent project potentially impacted by the reduction of development charges, there are several other projects, such as the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, that are affected.

“As your densities increase with more townhomes, more apartments, you will get less parkland per unit than you otherwise would have prior to Bill 23,” explained Wever. “That’s not an immediate short-term impact, but through the Park’s Master Plan, we’ll need to carefully consider that there will not be as much land or cash for parkland coming the town’s way.

Future upgrades to Shelburne’s Fire Hall and the local arena were also raised as projects of concern from council. 

“One of the unintended consequences, it seems, of this legislation is that in removing what the government considers barriers to building homes, they’ve essentially stripped municipality’s ability to raise the funds and the capital needed to provide the servicing for those homes,” said Mayor Wade Mills.

The Town of Shelburne had requested that the Province identify how the development charge shortfall will be addressed by Mar. 1.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. John McIntyre says:

    When you have a grifter government that works solely toward the benefit of business (“I’m a businessman first, and your Premier second” – Doug Ford) then you get corrupt governance. The only way for municipal governments to fund this is by raising property taxes 15-20%. We already pay $4200.00 a year in municipal taxes. That’s high enough, and another $75.00 to $100.00 a month to fund what is the responsibility of developers historically, is simply unacceptable. Next, there needs to be a moratorium on all new building and construction in the area and then a local plebiscite to survey residents in order to determine whether they want all this growth. Simply because The Town of Shelburne is listed as a ‘place to grow’ in Ontario, doesn’t mean that residents want it. We live in a democracy, Mr. Ford. This has nothing to do with affordable housing and everything to do with lining the pockets of PC donors. Well done, Shelburne Town Council!


Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.