Despite construction boom, city’s building department sees shortfall

News source from CTV News

London ratepayers may be on the hook for $925,000 to cover a shortfall in city hall’s building department.

Building permit fees have failed to keep pace with the cost of inspections, and the plan to fill the financial hole isn’t sitting well with some councillors.

Councillor Stephen Turner doesn’t like a plan to fill the shortfall with taxpayer dollars.

“This isn’t something that the taxpayer should be paying for. Growth should be paying for growth.”

Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer suggests a deep draw down from a reserve fund made up of surplus permit fees from previous years.

“If you are going to build a building in London, you need to cover the cost of the building division. That’s how this is supposed to work. Property taxes need to go to other things.”

After years without a substantial increase, London’s building permit fees lag behind other Ontario cities.

Permit fees for a single detached home are $8.80 per square metre. The provincial average is $13.31 per square metre.

The gap is even wider for apartment buildings, where fees are $5.80 per square metre in London, less than half the provincial average.

Earlier this week, city hall’s chief building official, George Kotsifas, presented a long list of permit fee increases to the planning committee

“The fees are to be increased dramatically hopefully to avoid this from happening in the future. Part of the problem is that those fees will not be in effect until later this year,” he said.

Staff also recommended automatic inflationary increases each year, which Helmer says will prevent future fee bumps.

“We need to move to a process of incrementally increasing it as the costs increase so it’s not such an adjustment for people because I do think it makes it difficult to adapt.”

Council will discuss filling the $925,000 building permit deficit and increasing permit fees at its meeting on Tuesday.

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