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Dufferin juggles turbines, development charges

The county may try to cash in by collecting a larger amount in development charges (DCs) for wind turbines as they sprout up in Dufferin.
Currently, Dufferin is eligible to collect DCs based on gross floor area (GFA) relating to wind turbine projects. As Dufferin works to revamp its existing bylaw in place since 2008, county officials have asked Hemson Consulting Limited to suggest some alternatives, one of which may include charging a flat rate per turbine.
“The square metre method does not bring in a great deal of money because of the nature of wind turbines,” said county treasurer Alan Selby. “They don’t occupy a large amount of space.”
One model county officials are examining is a bylaw recently brought into effect by Grey County – an approach that will charge a flat rate of $5,000 per turbine starting next year. Once that phased-in approach comes into full effect, Grey County will be eligible to collect nearly the same amount of DCs per wind turbine as it does for a single family home.
“(It) is kind of ground breaking, it’s not something other places, other counties, do,” Selby remarked. “It is just something to consider whether we want to follow that example.”
At this point, Dufferin certainly isn’t piling onto its coffers by charging DCs at a non-residential rate of $6.34 per square metre for wind turbines. If Dufferin were to implement a flat rate per turbine, however, Selby anticipates the county would definitely collect more cash than its current GFA model brings in.
“It is kind of a new area coming into the DC regime,” Jason Bevan of Hemson Consulting Limited told the county’s General Government Services (GGS) committee on April 23. “We’ll undertake to do a couple different options on the wind turbines. Just to give you the ability to make a decision based on the maximum approach.”
Of course, it can be tricky when determining how much DCs wind turbine proponents should be charged. While road, and perhaps even ambulance, services may apply to wind turbines, it’s hard to measure “just how much is the proper amount,” Selby added.
Although $5,000 per turbine may seem high, Selby noted that when Grey County’s passed its bylaw in 2009, it wasn’t subject to an appeal.
“They requested that we create kind of a more volumetric charge for wind turbines,” Bevan said. “It was over $10,000 and then council decided in Grey to say, ‘That obviously would be unfair, so we think $5,000 would be a more appropriate charge’.”
It is not known how the county may ultimately decide when it comes to DCs and wind turbines. Dufferin plans to host a public meeting in June, and its new DC blueprint could come into effect a few months afterwards.
Hypothetically, if the county opted to travel down the flat rate per turbine route, any projects with existing building permits wouldn’t be impacted.
“It’s just making it open to council, if they want to follow that path or not,” Selby said. “If they don’t, at least they’re aware that this is a change that could be made in the future.”