Ottawa planning committee votes to cut building, reno permit fees

Contractors and home renovators in Ottawa could soon be paying 10 per cent less for building permit fees, after the city's planning committee endorsed the plan Tuesday.

10% reduction won't jeopardize reserves, councillors told

Contractors and home renovators in Ottawa could soon be paying 10 per cent less for building permit fees, after the city's planning committee endorsed the plan Tuesday.

The city studied whether it could afford to reduce the fees after councillors suggested last fall the building code branch was collecting more than enough money to fill its reserve accounts.

Even though Ottawa saw a drop in building applications in 2015, collecting $1.5 million less in fees than the previous year, staff said the fee reduction could go ahead without jeopardizing its reserve accounts.

The reserve accounts have enough money in them to be near or even exceed their recommended caps, a staff report said.

Some councillors hoped lower fees might stimulate the construction industry, but the city's chief building official, Frank Bidin, said he doubts a fee cut will have a big impact.

"A reduction of fees of $100 for instance for a renovation activity worth $30,000 or $40,000, I'm not sure if people will jump in and say, 'I'm ready to go,'" Bidin told councillors on the planning committee.

Building permit fees aren't intended to be a revenue generator for the city, reminded Coun. Jan Harder, chair of the planning committee

The permit fee cut still needs approval by full city council.