WINNIPEG -- Homeowners who paid the city's impact fee could soon get their money back.

Since 2017, thousands of dollars have been charged for homes built in new suburbs, but last week a judge struck down the fee calling it invalid. Now Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said he won't sign off on an appeal, which could potentially pave the way for refunds of the controversial fee.

The city could be paying out more than $32 million. As of March 31, the fee was charged to more than 3,200 permits in six areas of the city.

They include:

  • More than $11 million from Waverly West;
  • $7.3 million in Old Kildonan;
  • $6.6 million in South St. Boniface;
  • $4.3 million in Transcona West;
  • $2.9 million in Wilkes; and
  • $1,900 in North Henderson.

"Provided that there's no appeal initiated by the applicants, I'd like to see those refunds go in a timely way," said Bowman on Wednesday.

The Manitoba Home Builders' Association said it is encouraged by Bowman's words, but it isn't sure when refunds could happen. It said it needs clarification from the judge on portions of the ruling that could impact purchase agreements.

"We need to clarify that so we've covered those situations off," said Larry McInnes, president and CEO of the association.

The road ahead is also unclear as the mayor wants the city to work with the industry on how development costs can be shared.

The association said it is willing to review the development agreement to see if the industry is paying its fair share, but McInnes doesn't want to see the city come back with a new version of the impact fee bylaw.

"To just simply re-tweak the failed impact fee bylaw in our opinion is not the right starting point," said McInnes.

But that could be exactly what happens as the mayor said the court ruling concluded that the city could bring in a fee and that the judge just had concerns with the corresponding bylaw.

"We have confirmation that we have the ability to impose an impact fee. We can revisit the bylaw this year and make those adjustments," said Bowman on Wednesday.