Powell River’s development cost charge bylaw will be going to city council for first reading later this month.
At the Tuesday, December 3, committee of the whole meeting, director of infrastructure Tor Birtig reported on the city’s initiative to update the development cost charge (DCC) bylaw, which is now 10 years old. The new DCC outlines charges for sanitary sewer, water, drainage, roads and park improvement for developments, including single-family homes, townhouse/duplex, apartments, condos and trailers, commercial, institutional and industrial.
“In a nutshell, we are looking to move this forward to city council for the first reading and from that point it requires a review from the inspector of municipalities,” said Birtig. “That’s the first step before it comes back and we’ll find out if there are any revisions required from the inspector at that point.”
One part of updating the city’s DCCs was looking at comparable communities. Mayor Dave Formosa said one fear he has is that the data regarding comparable communities might be dated.
“How fresh are the comparables?” asked Formosa. He also wondered if DCC charges could be reviewed annually.
Birtig said amendments could be brought forward on a yearly basis with the proviso that a review should be conducted every five years. In terms of comparable communities, the assumption has been made that the DCC charges listed have been modified within the last five years.
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said Powell River’s DCC charges have increased a bit, but she is concerned the city is not being strategic and including other potential projects that maybe should be part of the listing.
“We are just scraping the minimum of what needs to be done without thinking outside the box by including other areas that should be getting water and sewer,” said Leishman. “It’s a slight increase; it’s not massive.”
Councillor George Doubt said the DCC charges the city is looking at are too low. He said even with the increases, Powell River is below average and significantly lower than many of the comparable communities.
“I’m willing to accept what is being proposed here but I’m not concerned it’s too high,” said Doubt. “If I had a concern, it would be that they are too low and not providing for enough of the upgrades that are going to be necessary to existing infrastructure.”
Councillor Jim Palm thanked staff for the work done on the DCC costs. He said he wanted to remind everyone that a 25 per cent increase across the board was being recommended for the city’s development charges.
Palm said a 25 per cent increase in one year was substantial and he is in support of all the numbers that have been proposed.
“As you’ve stated, if we want to increase these in the near future, we can take another look,” added Palm.
Formosa recommended a one or two-day DCC workshop for councillors so city professionals can take them through the process.
Leishman said she thinks council should move the DCC update forward. She added that the fees do have a bit of an increase and agreed that councillors should do a planning session.
Doubt also agreed a session would be worthwhile to concentrate on the DCC bylaw, what the reasons are behind it and thinking about how the city can do something that fits the community. He said the city could look at comparable cities as a guideline and take a close look at what it needs in the future.
The committee voted to send the matter to council for first reading at its December 19 meeting.
Under the proposed DCC bylaw, development costs for a new single-family home would go from $7,598 to $10,159, with fees for sanitary sewer, water, drainage, roads and park improvement. Townhouses and duplexes would increase from $5,197 to $7,211 and apartments, condos and trailers will rise from $4,022 to $5,417.