IMPACT FEES: Bowman claims wins in court loss

Mayor Brian Bowman is unrepentant over a court decision requiring the city to repay $27 million in impact fees, which it levied in a tax-like manner against residential developers.

Bowman put a positive spin on the ruling, saying the court order sets a precedent in two ways.

“I’m very pleased that the court has stated that imposing an impact fee is legal,” he said. “Secondly, I’m very pleased to see the court affirm that growth in the city is not paying for growth. This has been one of the fundamental arguments that parties in this legal challenge have been making.”

Bowman said the issue in court was the manner in which the impact fee bylaw was drafted and the court’s technical reading.

“It appears that it was overly broad in how the monies were to be invested,” he said. “So then the next question becomes, what are the next steps?”

In terms of accountability for the court ruling, Bowman said city council approved the bylaw to introduce the impact fee.

“The bylaw and the manner in which it was introduced, the court took issue with,” he said. “I’m pleased that we have the roadmap, and for those property owners that have felt they have been unfairly subsidizing the cost of urban sprawl, this decision does provide a roadmap forward.”

In terms of the cost of legal fees in the case, Bowman said he couldn’t come up with a figure “off the top of my head.”

“Obviously the preference was the legal challenge wasn’t initiated — we didn’t initiate it — it was initiated by the applicants,” he said. “And so I have no doubt there will be legal fees incurred by all the parties.”

Bowman explained the city has been on the receiving end of one set of rules, while capital region partners operate under another set of rules.

“We are operating in a framework that treats the city unfairly,” he said. “And obviously we are working within the framework that is imposed on the city by the province.”

Mike Jack, chief corporate services officer for the city, said impact fees are no longer being collected as of Thursday morning. He said the move was to demonstrate good faith in light of the court ruling.

“In terms of actual administration, the decision of Justice Edmond doesn’t become officially pronounced until the parties get together to decide on an appropriate wording for the order, and then it is issued by the court,” he said. “All I can indicate is it would be premature at this stage to comment on whether refunds may in fact be occurring at some point. We do need to thoroughly examine the decision with our counsel and determine what the next steps will be.”