Halton Region Wants Doug Ford to Act Now on Education Bylaw
An Education Development Charges (EDC) bylaw is set to expire on Sunday and Halton Regional chair Gary Carr has sent a letter to Premier-designate Doug Ford on behalf of Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills.
If the new bylaw isn’t in place by June 24, the Halton District School Board and Halton Catholic District School Board “will be unable to collect development charges for the purchase of land for new schools in Halton, resulting in the loss of approximately $221,545 a day or $4.87 million per month in EDC revenues," said Carr.
"This is a significant amount of potential revenue they cannot afford to lose. In order to meet provincial growth targets, while ensuring sufficient infrastructure is in place, we need to ensure growth pays for itself rather than the financial burden falling on existing taxpayers."
The letter is asking Ford to direct the Ministry of Education to approve a background study that is required before the boards of education can approve their EDC bylaw, which is set to expire on June 24.
The EDC bylaw enables school boards to recover growth-related net education land costs from developers, therefore ensuring that growth pays for schools to accommodate growth.
The delivery of school capital needs is currently not aligned with the timing of growth in Halton, according to the Region.
From 2017 to 2032, an estimated 29 new schools (elementary and secondary), as well as additions to existing schools, replacements and capital improvements, are required to accommodate growth within the region.
"Funding for infrastructure for new schools is critical and the expiration of the EDC bylaw puts our local school boards in a very precarious situation," Carr said.
"The Ministry of Education has indicated no approval can be given until sometime after the Minister is sworn in; however, we need the new provincial government to act now to ensure there aren't significant impacts on students and our communities."
Halton Region is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada.
With a population of 570,000 residents, the region is mandated to grow to approximately one million by 2041 under the provincial Places to Grow Plan.
Since 2008, Halton Region has been advocating to the provincial government to ensure that growth pays for itself, through the Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign.
Carr has met with the Ministry of Education representatives in the past few years to discuss the need for sustainable funding to address the capital needs of Halton's school boards, “which is integral to building complete, communities,” reads a news release issued Friday.
“Regional council's position is that the growth targets set by the province for Halton must be matched with the funding and infrastructure to support them and that Halton Region will not compromise its strong financial position or AAA rating as a result of growth targets,” the release continues.
“Ensuring that growth pays for itself is imperative to the future vitality of Halton Region and is of critical importance to regional council.”
Photo courtesy of the Ontario PC Party’s official Facebook page