Brockville, Ontario



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Letter responding to the Mayor

In a recent article by Mayor Henderson he asked the question “What is a development charge?” In that letter he very logically explained the “official” version of what a development charge is. He claims they are a form of taxation and a form of user pay.

The Mayor proceeds to explain studies that the City is required “to establish what costs are purely related to growth”. He talks about the sewage treatment plant and roads. He finishes this part of his specious argument with “what the additional cost that a city will have to pay to up grade and maintain those roads due solely to the additional bodies.”

I moved to Brockville in 1980 to open my dealership and the sign on the 401 said the population of Brockville was 21,000. Today in 2011 that same sign says 22,000. The reality is that the population of Brockville is closer to 20,000. So it is easy to conclude that there has been no growth in “bodies” in Brockville to justify this tax.

In the 31 years I have been here, the only addition to the land mass acquired by Brockville is the addition of Country Club Place which adds over a $250,000 to the yearly taxes. From a land perspective Brockville hasn’t grown either.

During my 31 years here, I have seen a new police station, a second fire station and more municipal employees and the list goes on. I don’t have the exact figures but I am sure one could look up the 1980 city budget and look up the 2011 and see a significant difference, probably 4 to 5 times what it was in 1980. Now that’s growth!

Why has there been such a massive increase in municipal infrastructure? I am sure that the provincial government mandates & increase wages are major sources of those expenses. It does mystify me that the Mayor is focused on such “little fruit” as $2-5,000 per new house built, which might equal $25,000 to $40,000 per year. An amount the new buyer would have to add to their mortgage, when those same houses will pay $2,500 to $10,000 every year once occupied.

An example of this would be two developments that I was involved in. Butlers’ Creek and Courtyards of Kincaid. One is a 52 home subdivision that we built on land that once generated $800 per year. My company cleaned, installed a new street with fire hydrants, lights and sewers and built homes. We built a park with tennis courts and gave it to the city. The taxes are almost $200,000 every year. The other development is a 10 house subdivision, which the Mayor knows well, that now produces almost $50,000 in taxes.
Both of these developments would have paid some form of development fees, however the city now receives a nice yearly income.  Don’t forget every time your house or place of business is reassessed, you/we pay more taxes to the city.

The mayor completes his argument saying buyers would prefer “quieter, safer, park filled, clean little heritage community” rather than lower prices. He talks about competitive markets, and proceeds to suggest that the developers might not be passing on the savings because the same number of houses are still being built. One has to ask why people build in the township then.

Now let me remind the readers that prior to becoming a politician, David Henderson lead the charge on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce to reduce the taxes the Industries were paying in Brockville. He was successful and the city subsequently used most of the money from the sale of the PUC to reduce those taxes. Money we seem to need now. I agreed with that decision. However using his argument one could say that his successful campaign at tax reduction didn’t increase industrial activity in this city at all. I would argue that it saved jobs, but it certainly has not brought any new industries to this city.

Development is a different story than an industry in the normal sense of the word, however what Mayor Henderson is missing is that it is an industry. Why is it if you are an out of town developer or industry looking at doing something or relocating into Brockville you are fêted, but a local developer can not get the same attention from the Mayor and CAO. The examples abound. Do we not value our local resources enough? If development brings that much money to the city’s bottom line why isn’t local development (both residential & commercial) part of Dave Paul’s Economic development portfolio?

Mr. Mayor, you have been brain washed by the institution you serve. I know it is a normal part of the process but I for one would like the old Dave Henderson back. The Dave who wanted to see growth, was going to fight those high commercial taxes and take on the provincial government about down loading. Isn’t it time the city learned to live with-in it’s budget? Stop passing the hidden user fees and taxes down. We have much bigger fish to fry and it’s our expenses. Mr. Mayor just ask me!

Rick Walker
1000 Islands Toyota; Walker Developments


Here’s an idea that’s outside of the box, what about a regional police service?  The good thing about our police service is that it is local, we have three seats at the table of five on the police board, we have many local residents in the police service who know the city, the people, and the history. The Brockville Police Services has a long history and there is a feel to it, it is a part of the fabric of our community. Dollar for Dollar though, does it have enough size for true economy of scale and efficiency. Serving a small geographic footprint like it does means that at any given time a single major incident can draw in many of the on duty officers. Would a regional force give us the best of both worlds: a local feel and presence and a more cost effective service?
Its worth having a discussion.  A number of years ago I understand that Brockville Police Chief Barry King was discussing the idea in the region but it didn’t move forward. My guess is that people get  scared off over territorial integrity and governance. We all have the same issues when services cross boundaries and we get into arguments about who pays for what and who decides what.
Today the lay of the land may be a little different as OPP contract costs are rising rapidly and the Provincial government is cutting back on grants as it deals with its deficit. Currently the Province subsidizes rural communities for police costs thru a direct grant. Brockville is just urban enough to not qualify for police subsidies. Gananoque and many communities in the area receive a police subsidy
As well the OPP have a guarantee in their contract that their officers will be paid the highest in the province in three years time. These cost pressures will cause municipal councils to ask the question – Is there a better way?
We would have to do some research, find out how regional forces have been set up in places like Waterloo, Peel, Durham. What is their board makeup and representation?  I think the likeliest way for it to work is for everyone involved to accept that revenues would be paid in the same way as if it was one municipal entity and police services would be applied where needed the most via the Chief and Board Feedback. Who sits on the Board?  Depends on who is “in” but most likely based on population and provincial appointments. Again, these kind of questions require homework – maybe in practice regional boards have been set up differently.
Who knows, maybe a regional police service would allow other benefits to be found,  in common emergency services dispatch, or common facilities, training, or civilian services.  The end of the day we’ll all keep asking – is there a better way?
Brockville Regional Police Force… Leeds Regional Police Services…. St Lawrence Regional Police Services….now that last one is pretty catchy.


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