One of the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s Strategic Priorities, identified at the start of this term of council, was the ‘streamlining of the Development Process.’
Councillors, during 2020 budget talks, approved a $65,000 review that would look into ways of improving the efficiency of the planning process, potentially integrating planning, engineering and building applications – and coming up with ways to fill gaps, overcome bottlenecks and “incorporate municipal best practices.”
The project was contingent on the town receiving a provincial grant, from Ontario’s Municipal Modernization Fund – and at the time, the municipality was hopeful a grant would be forthcoming.
Now, with COVID-19 and the economic crisis capturing the focus of the provincial government, “it is assumed the grant will not be provided,” noted a staff report to council on Tuesday night.
There has been no change in the scope of the Development Process Review or the price tag, but staff is “essentially giving up on a response from the province,” explained Chief Administrative Officer Geoff McKnight.
Instead, staff recommended funding the review through other means. Since it is a growth-related study, 90 percent of the cost can be covered by Development Charges, council was told, with the remainder to come from the Strategic Initiatives Reserve. The reserve currently has a balance of over $500,000.
Council agreed with the proposed alternate project funding.
“I think we should move forward with this review as soon as possible,” said Mayor Rob Keffer. Streamlining will save developers money, avoid “hiccups” and speed up the process, he said. “Let’s get started with this study as soon as possible.”
Coun. Peter Ferragine agreed. “Streamlining and the words, Red Tape, Red Tape kept coming up,” during council’s Strategic Planning sessions, he noted.
Council approved the new funding sources unanimously, and gave the green light for the review to proceed.
The staff report also assured council that “if any provincial funding is ultimately received for this project,” it can be used to replace the DC and Strategic Initiatives Reserve Funds used.