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County secures second major award for innovative approach to financing infrastructure development

December 13, 2022

Picton – The County of Prince Edward has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for the municipality’s novel approach to expanding infrastructure for new housing development.

The County’s upfront financing agreements with developers recently received the GFOA’s Awards for Excellence in Government Finance. This recognition comes on the heels of the County accepting the Peter J. Marshall Innovation Award at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference back in August.

“Increasing housing options in our community requires expanded infrastructure. Upfront financing agreements are a novel way to help make that happen, and it’s great that our approach is being recognized as a model that other municipalities might want to consider,” Mayor Steve Ferguson says.

The County’s award-winning initiative was spearheaded by CAO Marcia Wallace, Amanda Carter, Director of Finance and IT, and Peter Moyer, Director of Development Services.

“At the County we seek to foster a culture of innovation,” says Marcia Wallace, Chief Administrative Officer. “The upfront financing agreement is a prime example of thinking outside the box to tackle a persistent challenge. I am extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish working together as a team.”

In rural communities with small tax bases, the cost of building infrastructure to support growth are daunting. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced unprecedented growth for rural communities like Prince Edward County.

With debt financing limited and somewhat risky for municipalities, the County found an innovative solution by negotiating upfront financing agreements with developers to pre-pay the development charges at the draft subdivision approval stage, rather than when building permits are issued. This way the financial risk for growth is reduced for both the developer and the municipality, ensuring that “growth pays for growth” and costs are not carried by the existing population through, for example, an increase in water or wastewater rates. While this approach is used in large urban centres for multi-million-dollar projects, it has not been used in smaller rural communities.

The County engaged with developers who were seeking draft approval for their subdivision proposals. The County then created a template financing agreement that provided for the developer to cover all of the servicing costs for the new subdivisions upfront. These pre-payments will cover the County’s debt costs for this major infrastructure (including new water tower, water plant, wastewater plant, and associated trunk mains) for at least the next 10 years. This arrangement protects the municipal ratepayer, while giving developers the certainty that their developments will be able to connect to water and wastewater infrastructure.

This approach provides the County with financial stability as it maintains and expands core infrastructure to meet the growing demand for housing. The agreement and approach provide a potential template for other smaller municipalities to manage growth and demand for housing.

The GFOA Awards of Excellence recognize innovative programs or contributions to the practice of government finance that exemplify outstanding financial management. The awards stress practical, documented work that offers leadership to the profession and promotes improved public finance. Prince Edward County was one of two Canadian communities to win this North American award. Other jurisdictions to win awards this year include Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Town of Bluffton (South Carolina), Maricopa County (Arizona), District of Oak Bay (British Columbia), Washtenaw County (Michigan), and Northshore School District (Washington). Learn more about this year’s award winners.

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For media inquiries, please contact Mark Kerr, Communications and Consultation Supervisor, at 613.476.2148 ext. 1009 or by email at mkerr@pecounty.on.ca.

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