The Victoria Residential Builders’ Association (VRBA) warns the “large” increase to development cost charges (DCCs) slated by a new bylaw recently passed by Saanich could slow or halt residential development in the municipality entirely.
On November 25, Saanich council unanimously passed a new bylaw to increase DCCs, which have not been increased since 1997. Coun. Nathalie Chambers put forward the motion in council, stating: “for me, everybody paying their fair share and inter-generational equity is an important part of my platform”.
VRBA Executive Director Casey Edge said the large increase does not provide stability or certainty for developers and in not doing so is in conflict with the provincial government’s DCC best practices guide. He said this undermines the development industry’s ability to plan their projects.
Edge said part of the problem is that Saanich wants to apply the new rates to projects already costed out and submitted to council. “If the product you’re selling is no longer marketable, it won’t go forward,” Edge said.
Edge said developers assume risk when developing a new property because the market can change from the time a proposal is approved by council to the time the development hits the housing market. He said increasing DCCs by the rate Saanich proposes will further increase risk for developers, which could affect how much new housing reaches the market.
Edge said this means Saanich residents will miss out on amenities and revenue planned for developments already submitted to Saanich if they don’t go forward as a result of the DCC increase. This is just one of the costs the VRBA said consumers will bear.
“The costs are always borne by consumers, which is why the cost of housing goes up,” Edge said. VRBA member Gordon English also said “any and all costs related to the development of a property are passed on to the consumer and are reflected in the increased cost of new homes and higher rents”.
Senior Vice President of Real Estate at Wesbild, Steve Forrest, said in a letter to Saanich council dated November 22 that the proposed DCC bylaw represents an increase of 390 per cent. The VRBA agreed with this characterization.
The VRBA and Forrest have put forward a number of suggestion for Saanich to reduce the increase in DCCs. These include raising the rate by 2 per cent per year in line with inflation for a total increase of 40 per cent, removing a portion of costs that make up DCCs (such as park acquisitions), or delay the increase by 36 months to allow in-stream projects to be completed first.
The bylaw still needs to approved by the provincial government, which council said could take some time.
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