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Huron County increasing planning application fees

Planning application fees will be going up for Huron County builders.

County council approved a report from planning staff at Wednesday's meeting, recommending fee increases across the board, as well as the creation of some new fees.

The report, from Director of Planning Sandra Weber and Planning Manager Denise Van Amersfoort, noted that fees hadn't been examined since 2021 and that recent changes to the Provincial Planning Act have added more work to the process.

Van Amersfoort said while a 2021 housing-friendly review of local development policies removed a lot of the minor files staff deal with, the remaining applications require a lot more resources.

"All of the easy applications are no longer needed," she said. "What that means is that the applications that are coming in are the more complex applications. It does take staff more time to review when have all those studies and all those technical experts... it is taking more time and we felt that the previous two percent (increase) that was approved wasn't accounting for the time or the cost."

A working group of local clerks determined that fees needed to go up beyond the two per cent annual increase that council agreed to, and additional fees for some services should be added. That includes a new $500 for the issuance of Retained Land Certificates and Cancellation Certificates.

Weber said the move was needed but resembles changes of other nearby governments.

"Overall, the proposed fees remain in line with the average fees between comparator neighbouring municipalities, so the working group felt like we're in a good range," she told council.

Weber added that implementing Cloudpermit for applications also drove up costs.

Treasurer Michael Blumhagen said about 15 per cent of the planning budget was covered by fees in 2023, a number that is historically around 18 to 20 per cent.

The new approved Planning Fees will be officially adopted by by-law, with plans to be in effect on August 1.

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