LETTER: Saanich Council needs to look at dollar amounts

We all like to show off to the world that we can grasp basic mathematical concepts such as percentages. But oftentimes it’s far more relevant to look at the absolute dollar amounts since this better correlates to people’s purchasing power.

For example, it sounds great when I say I’ve doubled my income from one year to the next, until I tell you I make $2 an hour this year compared to $1 an hour last. And if living expenses also increase 100 per cent, a house that cost $500,000 now costs $1 million. It becomes obvious how my wage, when not expressed in a percentage, indicates my purchasing power has dropped precipitously.

Saanich council recently misused percentages to justify increasing development cost charges (DCC), fees collected from land developers to fund growth-related infrastructure. Fees that Mayor Fred Haynes acknowledges will affect people’s purchasing power because developers pass these costs onto consumers.

RELATED: Saanich set to raise development cost charges by 180 per cent

A memorandum to the municipality concluded that since the 2005 DCC rates were 1.3 per cent of the cost of a house in 2005, it’s reasonable that 2018 DCCs also be similar (1.6 per cent). Saanich News threw this math dagger back at council by pointing out this equated to a 180 per cent jump per average residential single family dwelling. Here are the actual numbers used: $13,498 (2018) minus $4,809 (2005) = $8,689 (180 per cent).

RELATED: Head of Greater Victoria builders warns of changing construction climate

The municipality has allowed DCC to stagnate for the past decade despite annually increasing homeowners’ taxes on a representative house by 72 per cent ($2,266) since 2005. Thus, council believes this rate hike is a justifiable catch-up.

RELATED: New Saanich council faces long list of financial issues

However, Saanich council’s focus on percentages, rather on the far more relevant actual infrastructure costs, is a mistake. Just because housing costs are high in Saanich, does not mean infrastructure costs are. Houses are much cheaper in Sooke and Duncan, for example. Do sewage and water systems cost so much more to build in Saanich than nearby? I would expect not.

RELATED: Potential for Greater Victoria sewage project to go over budget

Council must consider absolute costs of items when deciding on issues that affect constituents, because easily calculated percentages using cherry-picked inputs rarely provide the right information upon which to make informed decisions.

Katherine Williams

Saanich

Just Posted

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Coast Collective ready to Raise the Roof with Langford art auction

The fundraiser is Friday, Oct 18 at the Royal Canadian Legion on Station Road

Saanich residents planning Halloween fireworks displays must plan ahead

Folks are required to attend one of three safety courses, buy a permit

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Most Read