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New home prices in York Region jumping July 1 to fund 'top priority' roads

June 1, 2017
Lisa Queen

The price of a newly constructed home in York Region will jump more than $9,000 on July 1 to help bankroll dozens of road projects the region had said it was too cash-strapped to afford.

The region is hiking its portion of development charges on new houses and buildings to bring forward as many as 56 road projects across the region, from Donald Cousens Parkway in Markham, Jane Street in Vaughan and 19th Avenue in Richmond Hill to St. John’s Sideroad in Aurora, Green Lane in East Gwillimbury and Mulock Drive in Newmarket.

Developers pass the cost of development charges on to homebuyers.

Council will have to decide which projects will be brought forward and a construction schedule for each through its budget process, said Brian Titherington, director of transportation and infrastructure planning.

Last fall, the region said it would delay the projects beyond 2031 because it was $1.5 billion (now recast as $1.3 billion) short on its forecasted 10-year roads construction budget.

At the time, Titherington called the situation “alarming,” and pointed out it didn’t include shortfalls for other transportation needs such as the extension of the Yonge Street subway to Richmond Hill.

The projects had never been budgeted for, Titherington said this week.

Instead, they were part of the master plan of projects the region knows it needs to build to accommodate growth but then recognized it wasn’t able to afford them without an additional cash flow, he said.

Pushing the projects off upset politicians and residents, Titherington acknowledged.

Hiking development charges is council’s way of addressing the region’s transportation needs, consistently identified as York’s top priority, he said.
“I think any time we’re talking about not building everything we’re showing in a vision document, that gets people frustrated. But we also have to be responsible about what we can afford,” he said.

“This is a huge priority and that’s why the (DC) money is going there.”

Meanwhile, the region is asking the provincial government to grant it new taxing powers, such as introducing vehicle registration and land transfer taxes, which could also be used to fund road projects, Titherington said.

He acknowledged that the increase to the region's portion of development charges is hefty, but said it still doesn’t totally cover the cost burden that new growth puts on services and remains a relatively small portion of the cost of a new house.

For newly constructed single and semi-detached houses, the region’s development charges will jump by $9,195 to $57,525. On multi-unit residences such as townhouses, the DCs will go up $7,402 to $46,301.

 Development charges on condos more than 700 square feet will increase $5,379 to $33,652, while on condos smaller than 700 square feet, DCs will go up $3,930 to $24,566.

Non-residential development charges are also rising. For example, they will increase $11.23 a square foot on new retail space to $51.12 a square foot.

“The development community is supportive (of the higher development charges) because they recognize the need,” Titherington said.

The region’s population is expected to grow by about 700,000 to 1.8 million by 2041.