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Niagara Region Development Charges Plan is Counter-Productive


June 30, 2022

HAMILTON, ON – As Niagara Region Council considers ending its development charge exemption for houses of worship, Cardus has warned the plan makes little sense.

“Any development charges paid by houses of worship would barely make a dent on Niagara Region’s balance sheet, but would be a huge burden for religious communities,” says Andreae Sennyah, Policy Officer at the non-partisan think tank Cardus. “Those payments also pale in comparison to the estimated $141 million that Niagara Region’s religious communities contribute every year in social services, community space, and economic spin-offs from their activities.”

In a council submission, Sennyah offered four reasons for keeping the development charge exemption:

  • Eliminating the exemption would put Niagara Region out of step with other municipalities. Nine of the 12 municipalities that make up Niagara Region already have such exemptions for places of worship. Nine of the 13 other comparable Ontario municipalities also have such exemptions.
  • Religious communities use their houses of worship to make an outsized contribution to the common good. At an estimated $141 million annually in Niagara Region, their total contribution more than offsets any lost revenue from these exemptions.
  • The financial gain from removing the exemption is miniscule. Based on the available data, houses of worship account for barely more than 1% of the $31 million Niagara Region spent on mandatory and/or discretionary exemptions in the past seven years.
  • Keeping the exemption provides predictability to religious communities as they plan their building projects. It also removes the risk of politicization that comes with choosing winners or losers by replacing the exemptions with a granting program.

The Cardus submission to Niagara Region Council is freely available online.


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