The head of the association representing local builders said comments from a Saanich councillor are not helpful when it comes to relations between council and development community.
“It appears all she knows how to do is pour gas on a fire,” said Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), when asked about how helpful comments from Coun. Nathalie Chambers were when it comes to patching up relations between developers and council.
Chambers had said earlier that developers exercise undue influence on Saanich politics. “It is open season for developers,” she said. “I do not see affordable housing been built in Saanich, but I see developers and lobby groups driving the bus.”
She made these comments in calling for the immediate implementation of new development cost charges (DCCs). Saanich defines DCCs as fees collected from land developers on a user-pay basis to fund the cost of growth-related infrastructure such as sanitary sewers, transportation, and storm drainage as well as parks.
DCCs paid for Blenkinsop land for park in #Saanich. https://t.co/6BXwgzQ5zF Read
https://t.co/qyxkqYmRLE Paid for by new homebuyers via developers. No thanks, just criticism. Chambers’ uninformed opinions a disservice to public & homebuyers #yyj #bcpoli #victoriabc
— Victoria Residental Builders Association (@VicBuilders) July 25, 2019
Edge disagrees with Chambers’ critique.
“If you check with Saanich, you will find the purchase of the Blenkinsop land to protect the environmental assets was funded by DCCs,” he said. “New homebuyers via developers paid for that asset yet received no recognition.”
Edge said Chambers acts as if developers take advantage of the community when in reality developers contribute significantly to parks, and upgrade roads and other infrastructure.
“[Chambers] does not understand the development industry and appears to have zero interest in learning,” he said. “I don’t think the public want to be guided by the uninformed.”
Council next month will receive a staff update on DCCs. Saanich council earlier this year delayed three readings of a new bylaw, which would have raised development cost charges (DCCs) following last minute lobbying from the development community.
Council — with Chambers opposed and Coun. Colin Plant absent — also asked staff to estimate the cost implications for Saanich if the municipality were to delay implementation of the bylaw by six months, 12 months, 24 months and 36 months following adoption of the bylaw.
Chambers argued that waiving DCCs amounts to a subsidy. Developers said higher rates would hurt housing affordability.