The decision quashes the bylaw which allowed the city to collect the fees on new homes and developments in certain areas to support new infrastructure, such as schools and fire halls.
It also means the city will need to pay back some $30 million with interest.
“The lesson, I think, from our industry’s perspective is we need to be partners in city-building,” said Lanny McInnes, president and CEO of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association, one of the groups behind the legal action.
“Our industry has always wanted to work closely with the city on coming up with an approach to sustainable funding that’s fair and equitable and based on good data, and that hasn’t changed. I think one of the things that maybe got us here is that approach wasn’t fully implemented.”
The court’s decision says the city does have the authority to impose the fees, however, the bylaw “imposes a constitutionally invalid indirect tax and is not saved as a valid user fee or regulatory charge.”
Mayor Brian Bowman says he was vindicated.
“For years we had heard — from some strenuously — that growth was paying for growth,” Bowman said.
“I’ve been arguing no, existing homeowners are subsidizing the costs of growth to an extent that I didn’t think was fair to existing taxpayers, so this decision confirms what we’ve been saying: growth is not paying for growth, and the City of Winnipeg does in fact have the ability to have an impact fee.”
The ruling opens a 30-day window for appeals, however, neither Bowman nor McInnes said there were indications either side would do so.
“I think less time in court and the more time building this community up, the better,” said Bowman, adding he would like to see the refunds go out “as soon as possible.”
The city says the process by which the money will be refunded is still being worked out and details would be coming soon.
However, it anticipated the refunds would be issued in mid-November, assuming there are no appeals.
WATCH: (February 2018)
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