Long Debate on Balder CIP

At Monday’s Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting, Councillors debated whether to approve awarding Balder Corporation the CIP amounts promised for their development. The concern (as pointed out in a previous Post) was that the number of affordable units per the County/Town definition was only 4 compared to the original 15 (20% of 71). The developers made a presentation to Council that included the fact that they were persuaded by Mayor Henderson to change their original plans for a retirement home to be a rental project with a promise of Council support. Their presentation plus subsequent Council discussion lasted 84 minutes. Staff also made it clear that even with no affordable units, the requirements for the CIP would be met.

According to Director Ian Davey, Director Anne Taylor Scott and CAO Tracey Vaughan, the points matrix that is used to decide CIP awards has many criteria and only one relates to affordability.

Despite being named “Affordable and Rental Housing Community Improvement Plan”, it is primarily aimed at increasing the rental housing stock. Director Anne Taylor Scott explained that the scoring matrix considers:

  • Range of Unit sizes
  • Affordability and its duration
  • Sustainability
  • Accessibility
  • Construction Timing

And even with a zero score for Affordability, the development would have been approved for the CIP grants and loans.

Nevertheless, Councillor Aaron Burchat moved that the CIP be referred back to staff to review given the change in affordable units (per County/Town definition). Staff seemed to believe that this would simply cause a delay with no change in the result and Aaron’s amendment was not approved.

Note that deferral of the Development fees was not up for discussion since it had been previously approved. Also note that the Town has not published the matrix used for deciding awards nor the scoring for this one.

Other information

  • The developers (Maryam Mohajer and Bakbak Akbari) said that in pre-construction public consultation, neighbours were concerned that some units would be subsidized by the County. Although Balder were in talks with the County, there are in fact no subsidized units. The County is not financially involved.
  • The development does meet the CMHC requirement for 15 “affordable” units – their definition of affordability is different.
  • The cost overrun was 20% although the $15M CMHC loan amount did not change. The extra came out of the developer’s pocket.
  • A condition of the CMHC Loan is support from one or both of County and Town.
  • Cornerstone is looking to use 3 of the lowest cost units.

In the end, it was clear that:

  • The CIP is intended to increase the Rental stock and not just for affordable units;
  • The application from Balder did meet the CIP requirements – even with no units meeting the Town’s definition of affordable.

So, after the long discussion, Council approved awarding the CIP grants and loans to Balder although the final motion included a requirement that the CIP agreement be brought back to Council for approval. This will take a few weeks.

Resources

Earlier Articles

PDFs

Town web page

Print Article: 

 

57 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ken Strauss
11 months ago

Moved due to wrong place.

Last edited 11 months ago by Ken Strauss
Sandpiper
11 months ago

Watch and see what your New Council is about to do when the Newly Revised Draft Plan from Tribute Homes hits the Council Chambers next There will be Rubber Stamp Marks all over it
Based on Advice from our New Director of Planning — Mean while the Tax Payers will be flipping the Bill for the Total Lack of Sanitary and Strom water Capacity for this Project .
Not only that but the lack of Foresight with respect to future need for sewer connections on the North side ie the Christian school expansion etc has been ignored completely

Sandpiper
11 months ago

I guess certain members of Council Past and Present
Told us what we wanted to hear Affordability , Lower Taxes , Accountability , Transparency
We listen to you the Tax Payers lets give ourselves a Raise
The old Flim Flam to get Votes
Make sure you don’t vote for them again .

Rational
11 months ago

It’s clear the Balder build turned out to be not what Town Council and Staff expected.

It is my view the Sleeping Cabin proposal now being considered will also turn out another Balder, in that Council and Staff will be duped, and if this project goes through it will not end up as they expect.

Informed
Reply to  Rational
11 months ago

If shantytown is built then it will expand and be the nail in the coffin for that area and Downtown.

Bill
Reply to  Informed
11 months ago

Taxpayers must demand that Council reject the Sleeping Cabin proposal.

Dave
11 months ago

I thought it timely that there was a report on CHEX news last night that it is expected 300,000 more people will be settling in Ontario in the year 2023. This is to be continued over the next years. The question raised was where do we house them as housing supply is even now inadequate.

Unappetizing as it developers must be enticed to build purpose built rentals which have not been built only in a very limited way for some years with condo builds replacing. Infrastructure has been sadly neglected in so many aspects. In addition until a project is proposed it isn’t put in. I guess Sandpiper the cost of that is why Developers are walking away.

cornbread
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

300,000 new people, no housing, just shows you how stupid government really is not only in Ontario but Canada as well. How about a tent city up north somewhere.

Cathy
Reply to  cornbread
11 months ago

It baffles me that we are the second largest country by land mass, with many natural resources, knowledge and technology, yet we can’t figure out how to build affordable housing. I don’t think it’s ignorance, I think they’re intentionally suppressing affordable builds.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

I suspect the reason that developers are walking away is that “affordable” housing is unprofitable when one considers the problems of eviction of tenants who who do not pay the rent, risks related to future changes to rent control rules, property tax increases and many other issues.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

Like the Air BnBs Ken for evictions and damage? However affordable housing? Developers are walking away from a wide variety of projects here in Cobourg Ken.
The issues you raise are applicable to many situations Ken. You have little direct experience or familiarity with affordable housing Ken. But then I wasn’t referring to affordable housing when I made the comment about developers walking away from projects. Look at the great piles of dirt sitting untouched near Canadian Tire and the stalled project there.

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Dave
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Ken I am disappointed you have not kept up on the changes in Ontario and Canada and are unable to understand that housing of all kinds needs to be built. With a very generous immigration system how could any thinking person fail to understand? As we go forth in life changes occur. Those that don’t understand often started their life cycle many years ago becoming part of the distant past.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave, I am very much aware of the changes.

Housing is being built. Consider New Amherst and the construction in the east end of Cobourg. The problem is that many cannot afford what is being built. Some feel that the solution is to take from current property owners — CIPs funded from higher taxes, expanded infrastructure funded from higher taxes rather than development charges paid by the housing purchaser, public housing funded by higher taxes, etc — to reduce the costs for others.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

I haven’t seen any further building in the New Amherst project – great empty fields, the mounds of earth that adorn the front of the area on Elgin left untouched, Albert & Division a big mound of earth. Not enough housing Ken to keep up with demand. Rents remain at $2000 for a 1 bedroom, so obviously the demand is not being met. More housing would mean more taxpayers which would lower the cost of your taxes as your property is being constantly re-valuated by MPAC at a higher value due to demand causing prices to rise. CIP is for rentals Ken. Development fees for private housing would remain with the home purchaser.

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave, your comments are incorrect. Consider:

  1. New construction whose value is less than that of our current average value increases the share of tax paid by current residents. A bad result!
  2. Demand for a 1BR costing $2000 per month is being met. If not, the price would be higher.
  3. As long as the value of a property increases at the average rate, its share of property taxes is unchanged. The mill rate will decrease proportionally if the average property increases in value.
  4. A CIP that forgives development charges on rental means that charges must increase for non-rental construction. A bad result!
Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

2022 Average Value – $275,500. What new build would be lower than that Ken? Even new condos would be well above that value.
1 Bedroom $2000 – listings are on for a long time, people move to Cobourg who sold their homes. There are many struggling to pay these new rents.
Average property values must be screwed Ken – my friend bought here in 2010 purchasing a lower cost home – price $250,000 she sold last year for $550,000 – the true value of the home. Her carrying costs, utilities, home insurance, property taxes etc. amounted to $850. a month – a far cry from what the renter pays and there are many like you retired homeowners mortgage free as the age demographic is for mainly retired people here. Count your blessings!!

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave, once again you are confused.

The average value is very low because MPAC hasn’t altered valuations due to COVID. A new build is valued not on the selling price but what it would have sold for years ago.

Today, a typical variable rate mortgage is at about 6.85% so your $550K property would have monthly payments of about $3,465/month. With taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance the total would be at least $4,000 per month. If you then add a minimal profit for the landlord of only 5%, one would expect a rent of maybe $4,250 per month. Could you please explain why you think that only $850/month would be a reasonable rent.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

“The average value is very low because ….. “COVID?
Really Ken? In 2009 MPAC was valuing, and I am related to the owners, their home at $100,000. below the true property re-sale value which was proved when the home was sold. nothing to do with COVID. The new owner would then pay at the selling price value for property tax. And so new builds would be taxed at their valued rate based on the selling price. So you prove my point in saying retired home owners with fully paid homes of which there are many who purchased years ago get a much lower tax rate to compare with the exhorbitent rents asked today.
On my 2nd point new home owner tax rates will boost tax collection and yes you may benefit with higher contributors. Reread Ken I said that was their carrying charge compared to what people are paying for rent. Count your blessings!!

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Yes, Dave, due to COVID. From the MPAC website:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government has postponed the 2020 Assessment Update. They have indicated that property assessments for the 2022 and 2023 property tax years will continue to be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values.

Rents, if our government didn’t interfere, are determined by the current value of a property and other current expenses plus a profit assuming there is a demand for the property.

Please don’t say that I “prove your point”. Old retirees do not get a lower tax rate! Are you familiar with the concept of market value assessment? Certainly MPAC sometimes (often?) gets things wrong but that doesn’t mean that retirees without a mortgage get lower taxes in general.

ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

 They have indicated that property assessments for the 2022 and 2023 property tax years will continue to be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values.””

Ken can’t wait for the increase in market value assessment wrapped into the tax base when they (doug ford etc) move to the actual market base!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
11 months ago

Ben, as previously noted the current value of a property is irrelevant. What matters is the relationship of the value of your property to the value of other properties in our community. Fortunately little low cost housing has been added!

Bryan
Reply to  ben
11 months ago

Ben,

Several things:
The MPAC assessment , while pretending to be market value, is not. A property’s MPAC valuation is consistently lower than the actual market value, sometimes substantially lower as is the current case.

An MPAC increase does not translate to a property tax increase. The two factors determining property tax are the increase (decrease??) in the tax levy (budget) and the change in MPAC valuation due to “growth” (new build, renovation and demolition).

Each property’s tax is based on the mil rate (increase/decrease) and the property’s MPAC valuation( increase, decrease, unchanged)

Last edited 11 months ago by Bryan
Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

Here you go Ken, the Prime Minister, the cause of it all, had now declared he has created a Four Billion, yes billion, dollar fund to assist people who wish to purchase a home. You will note I am sure quite happily there is not one red cent allotted to rental housing. Ensure to review your federal tax bill you may find in your bracket an increase in taxation.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave, $4B is only $400 per Canadian family. Don’t spend it all on your new kitchen sink!

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

Surely as a tax person you jest Ken. You must realize the pay back mainly affects people with high ikncome! Perhaps you should think about putting your new kitchen sink replacement off Ken.
Strange how the new tax levy has caused such consternation then among home owners – according to the stats you offer property taxes for most will barely move this year.
No longer a home owner Ken.

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Strange how the new tax levy has caused such consternation then among home owners – according to the stats you offer property taxes for most will barely move this year.

Cobourg’s taxes will increase by more than 14% this year. Dave, please explain your conclusion that taxes “will barely move”.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

14% Ken?? See info provided for property taxes below

  • The budget increase will be 8.1% resulting in a tax levy increase of 6.6% (the reduction is because there are 1.5% more properties to tax). Your total tax bill for 2023 will include County taxes which went up 6% and School taxes which did not increase at all. 12.6% increase unless at the Average property assessment over under more or none
  • Stormwater – As Ben pointed out the charge would be $6. unless you own a large property
  • Average assessment $278,000 which means for many they will pay $178. more according to the Town website on municipal tax portion
  • To Kathleen – my friend lived in the west end their home was very undervalued on MPAC and would have met the Average.
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave, read your property tax bill carefully plus pay particular attention to your billing from LUSI. Meanwhile, I understand that the Brooklyn Bridge is available for a reasonable price. KoolAid is also on special sale this week.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

Psychedelic Ken – you must be in the right age frame for that. $72.00 a year even confirmed by Bryan for the usual properties in Cobourg for Storm and Water. I suggest it is you that will be freaked out by reading your bill not your Average homeowner.

While in New York I decided against taking the Brooklyn Bridge Ken, instead I got back on the Interstate, but if you think it is such a good idea by all means – especially after midnight.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave,

The tax levy increase is 8.1% (6.6% for those who believe the after growth myth) PLUS the storm water fee which was previously included in the tax levy and is now billed separately as a utility user fee. The storm water fee increase is 6.2% for a total increase of 14.3% (12.8% AG). It doesn’t matter how it’s billed, it’s how much comes out of your wallet.

County and School are on top of this.

The $6 average storm water fee is for ONE month. The total average SWM fee is $72 and for many Cobourg property owners, will be more.

Rational
Reply to  Bryan
11 months ago

$72 doesn’t get anywhere close to the 6.2% your are selling the tax payers on. At 6.2% $72 would equate to annual property tax of $1,162 which I doubt you will find that low of a property tax around cobourg. The CTA seems to always want to instil trepidation in its’ comments.

Last edited 11 months ago by Rational
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rational
11 months ago

Rational, I’m unsure of your logic. The stormwater “fee” is planned to raise about $1.6M. That is about 6% of the entire 2022 levy.

This fee will be paid by every homeowner and business in town but homeowners will pay a larger share of the total than when stormwater management was included in property taxes. For me, the stormwater charge will be about $400 in 2023. Some will pay much more and others will pay less.

The stormwater management charge is determined by the size rather than the value of each property so your comparison to property taxes is a non sequitur.

I have no desire to “instill trepidation” but am merely reporting the facts. Please tell me how I have erred.

Bryan
Reply to  Rational
11 months ago

Rational,

The total 2023 taxpayer cost is $1,6M, which if included in the 2023 levy would add 6.2% over the prior year. This has been discussed at length in prior comments by me and others. Also note that I indicated the 6.2% increase was in regards to the tax levy, not as you claimed, the annual property tax. Please get your facts right.

Further, what does the CTA have to do with this?
At no point has the CTA been quoted or otherwise been indicated that my comments were for or on behalf of the CTA.

Please stop creating fiction and false news. You just end up looking foolish.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bryan
Kevin
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Dave, I understand your point about the cost of carrying her house vs. renting. However, if the housing market decreases her investment goes down in value. Renters do not have the responsibility of maintenance including large ticket items like roofs and heating systems. People make choices in life. I worked a job and a half so I could save for a down payment. Some renters smoke, drink and order take out instead of saving. Your friend’s investment went up in value from 2010 to 2022. This is not always the case. Should she have been paying much higher taxes so rents can be lower? I do count my blessings and watch my spending to make sure I can afford to keep the house I worked had to get.

Dave
Reply to  Kevin
11 months ago

Kevin – Over the long run you never lose when you buy a home. Homes purchased by war vets after WWII were going for $10,000, these same homes are now selling in Toronto for often a million plus however that is not the point.
What I find galling are people comfortably enconsed that resent every nickle going for any form of public service such as public transit, building of further rentals, beach use etc. etc. screaming about their property taxes when they pay comparitvely less and in many cases so litte on a monthly basis.
I was a homeowner until a few years before retirement Kevin. I understand your point about repairs. I gave up my home as I was injured in an non-compensatable injury which caused me to have to give up my job and sell my home.

Kathleen
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

You obviously haven’t been the West End Dave.

Rational
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 months ago

You mentioned Cobourg builders further up on the string. In my opinion New Amherst is no match or in the same league as Stallwood Homes.

Last edited 11 months ago by Rational
Gerinator
11 months ago

So, to my mind, the Council and Staff ‘of the day’ did not hold in high esteem the notion of Affordability. Given that the weighting could have resulted in Zero and Balder still gets the contracts says as much; and therefore why put it into the Scope of Work; and why are people arguing 15 vs 4 units. Clearly the developer likes the CMHC definition of Affordable vs the County/Town definition; it appears so does Staff. Again if Staff was serious about this requirement they would have baked-in the requirement and definition. Sloppy.

ben
11 months ago
Are_n
Reply to  ben
11 months ago

This is an informative and well balanced read. Thanks for sharing Ben.

ben
Reply to  Are_n
11 months ago

Thank you Are-n

sandpiper
11 months ago

Dave I believe that the Council of the Day should have known what was going on
I also hear that Councillor’s continually say well I am not a Planner or Engineer so we have to rely on the advice we are given by the Towns Employed Experts — This suggest that they must also rely on the Town Lawyers which is the same firm from for ever Obviously None of them are doing the Job of Properly advising and Protecting the Resident Tax Payers of this Town and Council just wants the Pay cheque .
Some accountability & restitution is in Order . If this was a Public Corp. That protected and is in place to oversee & make sure your investment in this Town was safe I believe a very large investigation would be taking place about now . CONSUMER PROTECTION and Disclosure

Rational
Reply to  sandpiper
11 months ago

Does the Town’s legal representation have Real Estate experience in dealing with Construction/Building Agreements and Subdivision Agreements? I’m my view these are the high risk areas.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Rational
11 months ago

They better have

Dave Chomitz
11 months ago

A Great example of why increased pay for council is a joke. I have 3 questions

1.      How many members of todays council voted for this back in the day ?

2.      Did they actually know that the promise of low rent units was worthless at the time ?
If so, were they trying to mislead the public ?
If not – did they just rubber stamp the staff report ?

If so who needs to pay more for that !!!!????

3.      Did staff know that the promise of low rent units was worthless at the time ?
If so was it a shell game to mislead the council ?
If not was it incompetence on the staffs part ?

This is very disappointing and not what was presented to the taxpayers by those who are supposed to be watching over our money. There should be a law that program names actually reflect what the program does.

Eastender
11 months ago

Disgusting,

Dave
11 months ago

Solutions to housing in Toronto – Rooming houses now legal across Toronto. My friends live next to one. More tenants than there are bedrooms, landlord not on site, house falling into disrepair, poorly maintained yard.
Multi generational homes. Large homes have gone up towering over current neighbourhood creating lack of privacy to others. Too many cars for parking, overuse of provided services.
Sleeping Cabin Communities – Kingston and Waterloo presently have such for the homeless.
Current disregard by Federal policies to ensure housing is built to accommodate prior to granting large influx of immigration – watch who you vote for!
Other than that rental housing starts such as these. The choice is yours.

Pilgrim Pete
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Rooming houses exit here in Cobourg and the same problems rear their ugly head just as they do in Toronto.

Dave
11 months ago

Apparently this is the only way rental housing is going to be built. With many places here charging $2250 – 2500 for a one bedroom the need is obvious. Seattle became a prime example of unaffordabilty in rentals. Many of the homeless there hold full time jobs as the rents long ago reached what they have reached here – $2000 plus. Tent cities would be even more unappealing. We could and have raised wages but then across the board this causes the price of goods to increase.

So what is the solution people? I don’t think you can force a developer to put up rental builds. To any down voters it would be good to hear your solutions unless you have none preferring like the ostrich to bury your head in the sand.

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Sandpiper
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

The Planning Dept Could have approved the Plaza Development on Elgin E by the YMCA
for 90 Apt. Units and 30 + Town homes may be Ben can tell us why this Developer has been held up ? Its certainly not Financial . nor was it for the 2 former Developers / owners They applied long before Balder , but as I recall Ms Beatty spearheaded & really sold us on the Affordability of Balder and the better deal . For who ??
All builders know and build into their budgets cost over runs of as much as 25 to 30 % more for subtrianian work .
What I am more interested in Knowing is how many of these units have been rented to people from out side Northumberland . Has this benefitted us / Cobourg in anyway ?
May be the Taxxxx Payers should be allowed to Vote on weather or not to give away this,
our money
through a Polling in the Draper Blog — Fast, inexpensive , unbiased

Dave
Reply to  Sandpiper
11 months ago

In viewing various plans on Elgin the word Condominium appears, were these apartments yet more condos? How many are designated as purpose built rentals?
Cost overruns – how do you know Balder had not built cost overruns into their budget yet still had a 20% overrun?
3 of the affordable apartments will be occupied by clients of Cornerstone which would signify they are from Northumberland.
Should some of the regular units have been rented to people from outside Northumberland the current listings will not rise even further Sandpiper, that would be a benefit perhaps you should ask how many, if any – Cobourg is growing as you would be able to see by the many projects listed on the Town site, pretty well all condos and private housing.

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
ben
Reply to  Sandpiper
11 months ago

“The Planning Dept Could have approved the Plaza Development on Elgin E by the YMCA for 90 Apt. Units and 30 + Town homes may be Ben can tell us why this Developer has been held up ?”

A very good question what do your developer friends, I don’t have any – you do, say about this development after all there have have been at least four since the original siteplan was approved nearly forty years ago!

sandpiper
Reply to  ben
11 months ago

so why on earth would 4 prior developers even purchase such a property if not to develop having done their due diligence and Pre consultation meetings with the Town WHY would the Town still have this in inventory as avail. housing .
YES it was for apartments How about No services
The same applies to the Tannery Lands not withstanding the Chemical contamination that was allowed to take place there No services Sanitary or Storm
Just wishful Thinking on the Towns part to make us think they are really doing something .

ben
Reply to  sandpiper
11 months ago

The same applies to the Tannery Lands not withstanding the Chemical contamination that was allowed to take place there No services Sanitary or Storm”

Sandpiper do you really think that an industrial site in use for over a hundred years would not have servicing utilities! Of course it does that’s why those lands are perfect for redevelopment. Unfortunately no developer wants to touch the land because of higher remediation costs

Cathy
Reply to  Dave
11 months ago

Rooming houses are always a great option, however, the owner needs to live in the home for it to work. It’s clear that Cobourg/Northumberland County needs more affordable housing. The example above of town council/developers aren’t interested or really care in serving the majority of residents living in the area. Even those earning good incomes looking for a decent place to live are struggling. Taxpayers will scream that their taxes will go up. Businesses will look elsewhere, people will leave, and Cobourg remains stagnant, stifled, and stuck. We need good leadership, a willingness to change perspective, and money to help solve the housing crisis. Sadly, that’s lacking.

Cobourg taxpayer
11 months ago

I hope current council/staff have learned from this and has the wherewithal in future developments to ensure taxpayers money is used where they thought it was going. Why in the world should the taxpayer fund a private developer increasing the number of rental apartment units? It is definitely not the taxpayers problem that a private developer’s project cost 20% more than the original estimates. That’s likely why there are fewer subsidized apartments, the developer is trying to recoup their costs one way or the other.

ben
11 months ago

Let me just say once again, the CIP process was a big con, it is not that Council hasn’t heard this before, but if the Council wants ‘affordable units’ the Private Sector has to be kept out of it!

Given that this experience has exposed that the CIP is a waste of taxpayers money it should be rescinded. Any deferral of development charges (DC) should never be considered as an incentive. DCs only pay for 67% of any development, in the light of Bill 123 DCs should pay 100% of development..

Last edited 11 months ago by ben