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Grey Highlands mayor has second thoughts about parkland fees

Mayor will bring a reconsideration resolution to look at phasing a $1,500 increase planned for the municipality's parkland dedication fee
Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen would like to see a planned $1,500 increase to the municipality's parkland dedication fee phased in over three years.

Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen is having second thoughts about a plan to significantly increase the municipality’s parkland dedication fee.

At council’s meeting on May 15, McQueen said council’s decision on May 1 to increase the parkland fee from $500 to $2,000 was too much, too fast. McQueen suggested the increase be phased in over three years with a $500 jump each year.

“It’s a big increase from where we are,” he said.

Council agreed to the $1,500 increase in a 5-2 vote at the May 1 meeting. Coun. Paul Allen had initiated the process to increase the fee after researching how much other local municipalities were charging for parkland dedication fees.

A parkland dedication fee is money collected by a municipality in place of a donation of land for park purposes. In many situations where a lot is being created away from an urban area, the cash-in-lieu fee is more appropriate than a land donation. The money collected is held in reserve and used for parkland acquisition or upgrades.

In response to McQueen’s comments, Allen said in neighbouring Southgate, the fee is $3,500. Allen cited the rapid rise in costs to acquire land and said it is costing the municipality more to acquire land for recreation/park purposes.

“This is something we need to look at yearly,” said Allen. “(The $1,500 increase) is a smaller step than we actually should be taking.”

The mayor’s desire to see the fee increase phased in over multiple years caused a procedural issue for council. On the agenda for the meeting were updates to the municipality’s fees and charges bylaw and its parkland dedication bylaw to implement the new $2,000 fee. In addition, McQueen’s request also amounted to a reconsideration – as Allen’s motion to increase the fee had been approved by council.

Clerk Amanda Fines-VanAlstine suggested the bylaw updates could be deferred and the mayor could introduce a notice of motion for a reconsideration resolution that council could consider at its next meeting on May 29.

Council approved the deferral of the bylaw and McQueen subsequently issued his notice of motion to be decided at a future meeting. Since it's a reconsideration motion, it will require two-thirds support (five votes) from council. 


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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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