September 20, 2016 8:17 pm
Updated: September 21, 2016 9:07 am

Growth fees ‘shortsighted’: Manitoba Premier Pallister urges Winnipeg to find savings

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (right) said he does not believe in any kind of growth fee.

Adrian Cheung/Global News

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister renewed his stance, calling for an end to prospective growth fees in the city of Winnipeg on Tuesday. The premier reiterated that he is against fee increases in both municipal and provincial governments; labeling the controversial development growth fees as a “tax.”

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“To simply acquiesce to the belief that we should raise taxes and fees on an almost annual basis — and somehow that’s going to be the solution to our development problems — is to me, shortsighted,” Pallister said.

The premier promised an era of financial austerity during his provincial election campaign and urged Mayor Brian Bowman to find a solution to the city’s infrastructure deficit that does not include the implementation of growth fees.

MORE ABOUT GROWTH FEES: Prospective growth fees causes concern for new homebuyers

“It would be inconsistent for me to suggest that it is not a better possibility for the city to find savings in other areas rather than simply going to a new fee or tax,” Pallister continued.

The premier and the province have no legal framework by which to force Bowman or the city to abandon the growth fees plan, should voting in both the Executive Policy Committee (EPC) and city council, come to pass. According to the latest administrative report released on Friday, the City of Winnipeg has the legislative authority and bylaw to impose fees, under the existing City of Winnipeg Charter.

Growth fees has become a contentious issue between Bowman, home builders and several city councillors. Criticisms of the prospective growth fee plan has included claims of it being being rushed and without a proper process of implementation.

Bowman has hit back against those claims and has stated repeatedly that he believes development costs more than it generates.

The Manitoba Homebuilders Association said on Tuesday that it considers legal action against the city as “a last resort” but that it has contacted lawyers and has also hired consultants of its own to review growth fees and present the findings.

Growth fees will be at the top of the agenda for EPC on Wednesday.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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