Saturday, August 31, 2013

Development in Torbay - How do we go forward?

I think that the town of Torbay needs to promote both residential and commercial development to occur. That doesn't mean to slap up a house on every piece of land we have but to proceed in a manner that is responsible and sustainable.

The main source of revenue for the town of Torbay is residential property taxes, they amount to 75% of total revenues in the latest budget and when you add the water and sewer tax to that it grows to 80%. Add another 7% to that for the money we receive in business taxes and you can see that in order to sustain any kind of spending in the town there is a need to increase the tax base.

Increasing the commercial tax base in our town should be a high priority and we need to do everything we can to encourage commercial development. If we can increase the percentage of taxes coming into the town from businesses the burden on the residential tax payers would be less.

Convincing businesses to set up in our town is not as easy as snapping your fingers. Any person contemplating setting up a business is going to want to put it in a place where it can grow and prosper. That means in order to make the town attractive for new businesses we also need to promote residential development. New development is a sign of growth and growth is what attracts businesses to a potential lucrative customer base.

People tend to have opinions about candidates running for council and try and label them on certain issues such as pro-development or anti-development. I have been asked which of these categories I fit into and I would say that on every issue I am PRO-TORBAY. If I look at it and I think it is good for the town in the short and long term then I am for it. I don't like to make decision based on some ideology or preconceived notions based on a political philosophy.

There is a great need in Torbay for increased services and improved recreation facilities for residents. The only way to get the money to provide these things is through increasing the amount of revenue coming into the town coffers. As I have already pointed out the town gets 87% of it's revenues from property taxes and without a new funding formula for municipalities this ratio is not likely to change any time soon. That is not to say there won't be new funding formula because as recent as the last provincial budget the government made strides towards creating a new funding formula for municipalities, which added much needed funds to our towns operating grant.

As it stands right now, in order for the town to increase revenues the easiest way to do that is through residential development. Over the past number of years the amount of development in Torbay has been tremendous but I don't think it has gotten out of control. There is no secret that our housing development has outpaced our water and sewer services and up until the bypass road opened was putting a strain on our main artery Torbay Road. However almost all of our new housing developments are large lot 3/4 acre or more and have their own water source and septic fields. All of these developments are subjected to various ground water and runoff studies to ensure they can be done without having a negative effect on the environment.

It is my belief that every single development proposal that is submitted to the town needs to be looked at on it's merits and considered with an open mind. If a development proposal meets all the required regulations and rules there is no reason it should take years to get through all the red tape and delays.

In Torbay we have some big problems with our infrastructure that will require significant investment in the coming years. In order to pay for these things we need to be able to collect revenues through development fees and residential taxes. That facilitates the need for Torbay to continue to grow and develop in a way that is reasonable and beneficial to the town and our residents.