(Black Press files)

Metro Vancouver, TransLink development cost charges a ‘hard sell,’ says Delta staff

Proposed rate would see an increase of more than 200 per cent — up to $5,428 for a single-family home

Metro Vancouver and TransLink’s development cost charges (DCCs) aren’t sitting well with Delta staff, according to director of corporate services Sean McGill.

On Monday, Dec. 11, Delta council received an information report from staff on the proposed regional DCCs for Metro Vancouver and TransLink.

Metro Vancouver’s DCCs are for the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District. Currently at $1,731 for a single-family home in the Fraser Sewerage Area (where Delta sits), the proposed rate would see an increase of more than 200 per cent — up to $5,428 for a single-family home.

This is the highest increase in Metro Vancouver: the three other areas have seen between 78 and 105 per cent increases. According to the report, this is because the Fraser area is expected to see 73 per cent of all the growth in Metro Vancouver, the majority of projects are within the Fraser Sewerage Area and there has been a 20 year gap in rate increases.

“I think at a municipal level we would have been held a lot more accountable, not only to council, but to developers themselves,” McGill said during council, noting that as a staff member, he would be unwilling to suggest such a large increase in this situation.

“I totally appreciate the 20 year gap. I appreciate all the big projects. I appreciate the growth. I think that’s something they have to work through with staff.”

He said the DCCs were a “hard sell” for Metro Vancouver. “It’s not well accepted,” McGill said. “It should spread out, a longer time frame, maybe [rates] reduced as well.”

The Metro Vancouver DCCs have already been given preliminary approval by the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage board of directors on Oct. 27. The bylaw will be forwarded for statutory approval from the province, and brought back to the board of directors for final adoption in January 2018.

The new rates would likely start on May 1, 2018, with a one-year grandfathering period of applications in progress.

Of greater contention in the council chamber was TransLink’s proposed DCCs, which were approved by the mayors’ council on regional transportation. The DCCs would require new legislation from the provincial government to go through.

“We didn’t like the transparency of it. We didn’t like how it was done,” McGill told council. “Maybe at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do a DCC, but we didn’t like how this one is being done.”

Related: New development charges move ahead to fund Metro Vancouver transit

The TransLink cost charge, approved in early December, would see a flat rate across the region: from $2,100 for a single-family home to $1,200 for an apartment unit. A tiered rate, which would have decreased Delta’s charges by around a quarter, was proposed but ultimately abandoned.

The primary concern with TransLink’s DCCs was what McGill called a lack of transparency around the charges.

“It’s very different than what we’re allowed to do. It wasn’t tied to specific projects,” McGill said. “They [TransLink] basically said, ‘We have a funding shortfall, we need some money. We need $20 million’ and then they worked backwards.”

TransLink did not specifically identify which projects the funding would support.

“We might better be able to swallow a bitter pill if we knew what we are going to get,” Counc. Sylvia Bishop said during council.

If TransLink’s DCCs are fully approved, they would likely be implemented in January 2020.

If both Metro Vancouver and TransLink’s DCCs go through, Delta developers would be paying around $20,000 for single family homes ($11,942 for Delta DCCs; $5,428 for Metro Vancouver; and $2,100 for TransLink). Each townhouse unit would see nearly $15,000 in DCCs ($8,252 for Delta; $4,695 for Metro Vancouver; and $1,900 for TransLink) and each apartment unit would see nearly $11,000 ($6,079 for Delta; $3,530 for Metro Vancouver; and $1,200 for TransLink).

According to McGill, a consultant for TransLink said these additional charges would not impact the cost of housing, as market prices are set by supply and demand — not development cost charges.

Mayor Lois Jackson said she “cannot believe the logic here to say that it’s not going to impact in the cost of housing.”

“It’s quite substantial, even for one single family house, let alone an apartment,” she said. “Because we know this is just going to be passed on to the purchaser, no matter where you sit with this.”



grace.kennedy@northdeltareporter.com

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