Former Rockwood deputy reeve wants capital levy changes

Former Rural Municipality of Rockwood deputy reeve Bill Matheson spoke to Rockwood council on March 13, 2019 in Stonewall, Man., wanting changes to The Planning Act regarding capital development levy fees. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times)

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A former deputy reeve of the RM of Rockwood returned to chambers during a meeting of council on March 13 asking it to pass along his concerns over capital development levies to the province.

A capital development levy is a one-time tax on a new property paid by a developer to a municipality to offset the costs of expanding or replacing municipal infrastructure to accomodate the development. The fee then goes to the municipality and is placed in a reserve fund. In the RM of Rockwood, the capital development levy for a new subdivision in an urban area is $14,000; in a rural area, $10,500.

Bill Matheson, who did not seek re-election in last year’s municipal election, wants the provincial government to change The Planning Act to allow the province to collect capital development levies through other means than subdivision. He went on to call Section 143 of the act, which says: A council may, by by-law, set the levies to be paid by applicants to compensate the municipality for the capital costs specified in the by-law that may be incurred by the subdivision of land, as “flawed.”

“It states that a levy can only be enacted in the creation of a new lot,” Matheson explained, saying there have been instances where landowners had subdivided their land and paid the fees, while the new owners of the subdivided parcel had built on the property without paying the levy. He also said he was told by South Interlake Planning District general manager Eric Shaw that 10 properties in the RM of Rockwood have not paid any capital development levies.

“Many governments across Canada, even today, collect both in the area of development and in the building permit stage,” Matheson added, citing examples in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

The RM of Rockwood recently sent drafted a resolution to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities asking for The Planning Act to be altered to include a broader collection of capital development levies. Gimli MLA and minister of municipal relations Jeff Wharton later wrote a response which left Matheson feeling unsatisfied.

“(Wharton’s) reply was, ‘The municipalities are encouraged to utilize enabling legislation to meet their local needs,’” he quoted. “He and his department are not grounded with regards to the problem. They do not grasp it. It was just a token exercise in futility.”

Matheson provided an alternative where capital development levies are attached to the costs of building permits. Upon payment of the required capital development levy, the amount would then be rebated.

“This would not be a fee. This would not be a charge. It would be a rebate. Nothing to do with subdivision, simple and clear,” he said. “We need to be responsible and treat our ratepayers fairly.”

Matheson suggested that council meet with Wharton and Lakeside MLA Ralph Eichler regarding potential changes to The Planning Act, but he also told council that the RM of Rockwood should take the matter into their own hands, even if it means going to court.

“If government won’t change this law, then we should,” Matheson added.

Gunton gets new stop, street signs

Council passed a motion for the public works department to erect new stop signs and street signs on all east-west streets in Gunton.

A review by the RM suggested that 14 stop signs and 10 street signs be added to the community after residents raised the issue with Ward 5 councillor Terry Hartle.

“It’s pretty hard to deny the community something like this when every other community pretty well (has this) in the province,” he said to council.