03/05/2015 05:49 EST | Updated 05/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Liberals look to hike charges on condo developers

The Ontario Liberals are proposing reforms they say would give residents a greater say in how their communities grow, and give cities more money to pay for services like transit and recycling.

Changes to the Planning Act, if passed, would ensure residents are better consulted once planning starts for new developments and would encourage feedback on the future of their communities.

There would also be ways to help municipalities resolve potential planning disputes earlier — reducing involvement of the Ontario Municipal Board in local disputes.

The province says changes to the Development Charges Act would help municipalities pay for transit improvements. 

Developers of new condo towers and housing projects currently pay "development cost charges" to help cover the cost of providing new streets, water and electricity. 

The proposed changes introduced this afternoon at Queen's Park would add transit costs to the list. 

"Changing the rules gives municipalities more flexibility to use those development charges for transit purposes and promotes not only better transit, but transit-induced development as well," said Government House Leader Yasir Naqvi.

Ontario cities already bring in some $2 billion a year in development cost charges. 

"Nothing is free anymore. Those days are long gone if they were ever here," said Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin 

Transit headaches

Toronto's condo boom has caused transit headaches for many, mostly notably along King Street West where an explosion of development has clogged the 504 streetcar. 

"Sometimes I'm waiting, like, 17 minutes and when it gets there, it gets pretty backed up," said area resident Garrett Hnatiek. 

Developers want some guarantees about how cities might spend the new revenue — that it goes into the projects and that residents get what they paid for. 

"Those residents entering into those new condos — they're paying the costs of those new charges and they have a right to know where that money went," said Joe Vaccaro of the Ontario Home Builders Association. 

The government says the proposed amendments are based on input from across Ontario, including more than 20 public workshops and stakeholder meetings, as well as mailed in and electronic submissions.