New changes made by the province in regards to how development charges work could cost the City of Guelph some $115 million, a figure given by treasurer Tara Baker at Council on Monday night.
The lost municipal revenue could put at risk or delay the new main library planned to be built in the Baker District Redevelopment and the proposed south end recreation centre.
Mayor Cam Guthrie went off script in a longer commentary in response to the provincial changes at Council. As chair of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, he has been leading an effort to thwart the provincial downloading.
Though he said there has been “an absolute lack of consultation” between the Progressive Conservative government and the cities, he said there was a “wake up moment at the province” leading to extended talks.
Expressing his frustration with the provincial government causing staff to spend time working out solutions, Guthrie said that “it’s very difficult, very difficult, when our own staff is ripped away from what they’re supposed to be doing.”
A report released by staff ahead of the Monday Council meeting found that provincial cuts and downloads affecting paramedic services, public health and childcare will cause a “significant impact” on the city’s 2020 operating and capital budget planning.
A provincial ‘spanking’
Coun. Phil Allt called the whole situation the province “spanking” the cities. He added that he feared the city may have to dip into financial reserves.
Though the impact on the tax rate next year is unknown at this time, Treasurer Baker said the city is in a stable place when it comes to weathering the storm, adding that if reserves are used, “that’s okay and we’ll plan around that.”