Developers will have to pay higher development cost charges, if Maple Ridge council agrees. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge looks at raising development fees

Metro Vancouver wants to triple its charges

Developers will pay more to the city, another 18 per cent more, when they’re building single family homes, so the city can build sewer and water lines, roads and parks – if council agrees with staff suggestions.

Council, on Tuesday, was to look at hiking the charges that are exacted from developers for building projects.

The proposed increases would see development cost charges for a single family home built in a suburb rise from about $19,000 to $22,470. Costs for building single family homes in the downtown would take a steeper jump – by 34 per cent – as the city creates only one development cost charge for single family homes.

When it comes to building townhouses, development cost charges would jump from $121 per square metre to $134, about an 11-per-cent hike.

Development cost charges pay for the water and sewer lines, roads and parks that are required when builders put in new suburbs.

Fees are rising is because of the increasing costs of land needed by the city for parks or roads.

A staff report says that, if approved, and the bylaw gets second or third reading, the increases won’t kick in until next March.

Any projects currently in process wouldn’t be affected by the hikes.

Consultation with builders has been going on since July.

Higher charges from the city aren’t the only new burdens that will be borne by builders.

Metro Vancouver is also tripling its development cost charges next May, with those fees going from $1,700 up to $5,400 for single family homes in Maple Ridge.

Meanwhile, TransLink is adding a development cost charge of its own, about another $2,100 per lot, taking effect in 2020.

Maple Ridge’s manager of financial planning, Trevor Thompson, said the last increase to development cost charges was in 2007.

The money the city collects from development charges can only be spent on water and sewer lines, roads and parks. And if enough isn’t collected in charges to pay for infrastructure, the general taxpayer will have to cover the cost.

Compared to other cities, Maple Ridge is in the middle of the pack in the amount it charges developers. Its proposed development cost charge of $22,470 for a single family lot is double that of Pitt Meadows, which charges the lowest, ($10,697 per lot) out of a list of a dozen Metro Vancouver cities.

Richmond proposes to increase its charges to about $39,000 per lot, which would be the highest development charge in the area.

Surrey is second highest at $32,300 per lot.

“It is a very large piece of our funding. It funds a good portion of our capital projects for years to come,” Thompson said.

In addition to raising the charges, Maple Ridge is also combining its development charges into one category instead of charging different rates for suburban and inner city projects.

Builders, though, know about the coming increases and just want them timed properly.

Council, on Tuesday, also considered creating a new affordable housing fund that could be used to kickstart such projects in Maple Ridge.

That would be funded by extending the city’s new community amenity contribution to building projects in the downtown. Currently, construction projects in the town centre don’t have to pay the $5,100 per single family lot or $4,100 per townhouse or $3,100 per apartment, charged to developers to pay for parks and recreation projects.

But a staff report recommends charging half those rates to downtown projects and putting the money raised by doing so into a new affordable housing fund.

Maple Ridge only created its community amenity contribution in 2016 and so far has raised $1.1 million from such charges.

Community planning manager Brent Elliott said in the report that development in the downtown is increasing and community amenity contributions are needed to pay for city facilities, or affordable housing.

Council isn’t considering increasing community amenity contributions, but a study says those could jump by almost $1,000. But that is not being contemplated.

The report also points out that land prices have jumped by 90 per cent in the past four years.

“Concurrent with the rise in property values, it was also observed that selling prices have equally increased, outpacing any increase in regional construction costs.”

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