Tehkummah boosts building permit fees

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TEHKUMMAH – The costs of building in Tehkummah are increasing to be closer to other Island municipalities after council approved an increase to the price of building permits from $8 per thousand dollars of project value to $10, bringing it in line with the existing fee in Assiginack but below that of the Northeast Town and the higher prices off-Island.

The township also doubled its formula to estimate the value of a project from $100 per square foot to $200 per square foot, meaning a 1,000 square-foot home in the township would be expected to cost $200,000 to build. This is lower than actual estimated construction costs of $300 per square foot, to account for situations in which people perform some work themselves to reduce their building costs.

Previously, landowners would submit an estimated project cost to determine project fees. A standardized rate structure is aimed at reducing abuse of the system by people who underestimate their project values.

Tehkummah held a special public meeting Tuesday, April 13 before the regular council meeting, allowing members of the public to attend and share their opinions on the proposed changes.

Chief building official Gerry Strong offered information on the changes he proposed, noting that Tehkummah’s prices have not changed in more than a decade. In addition to the cost-estimate formula and the price levied against such estimated value, Tehkummah also tripled its minimum building permit fee to $300 from the existing $100 for homes or non-accessory buildings.

For accessory buildings, such as sheds or other structures incidental to the main building on a property, minimum fees will rest at $200.

Councillor Michael McKenzie asked if there was a maximum permit amount; Mr. Strong replied in the negative, but said he would be surprised if the township would ever bring enough permit income to surpass the budget of running the building department. Fees are only intended to neutralize that cost.

Councillor Rick Gordon asked if the price per square foot accounted for the higher cost of building supplies over the past year; Mr. Strong said that the $300 per square foot number was a longer-term estimate and he figured actual building costs would be closer to $400 per square foot today.

Mr. Strong noted that the township’s building bylaw cannot supersede the Ontario building code and must work within its parameters.

The Township of Assiginack was also looking at increasing its building permit fees at the time of the meeting, to $12 per thousand in construction value from its current $10. Mr. Strong recommended that Tehkummah also go to $12 but councillors opted to go to $10 instead.

As an example, Mr. Strong said a 1,000-square-foot house building permit would cost $2,000 based on an estimated construction value of $200,000.

“That sounds high but when you start looking at the cost of me and the office, we’re not making money on it. Comparing the same permit in NEMI would be about an extra 50 percent on top of that,” Mr. Strong said.