Maple Ridge city council took a step toward dramatically increasing the fees its charges developers on Tuesday.
Council processed a new development cost charges (DCCs) amending bylaw, and it is being sent to the provincial Inspector of Municipalities for review and approval.
DCCs are levies that help the city build infrastructure and parks required to service new development. Council gave the new bylaw second and third reading, and after its approval by the province, it would be brought back to council for final adoption – an estimated six weeks away.
The charges became an election issue in Maple Ridge’s civic vote. Coun. Gordy Robson, who did not run for re-election, said last summer the city was not charging enough, compared with neighbouring municipalities. Robson said the city was missing out on millions in potential revenues.
The last rate adjustment was in 2017.
If approved, the new fee will be $41,000 for a single family residence, which is up from the $22,465 currently charged.
The fees for multi-unit housing will also significantly – in the order of 80 per cent increases. They are up to $241 per square meter for townhouses, $236 per square meter for apartments, and $192 per square meter for high density apartments – buildings six stories and higher.
A staff report noted feedback from developers called the rate increases poorly timed, with all the other economic factors negatively impacting the housing market. Developers asked that the city phase in the increases over several years.
The staff report advised: “There are other pressing citizen needs and phasing in rates moves away from development paying for the costs of development.”
Coun. Jenny Tan questioned DCC increases for social housing and affordable rental for seniors, which also rose about 80 per cent.
She said the city should want to incentivize those types of housing, and alleviate the burden on non-profit housing providers.
“We know those are important for folks who are lower income in our community,” said Tan.
Trevor Thompson, chief financial officer, said the increases were high, but social housing projects already have a lower DCC rate than market housing – about half of the regular apartment rate, rising to $90 per square meter with the bylaw amendments.
Thompson suggested council could do a separate bylaw to reduce or entirely waive the fees for affordable housing projects, to encourage non-profits to build. That would not hold up the DCC bylaw.
“I want to thank staff for bringing this forward so early in the new term,” said Coun. Sunny Schiller. “I think this is an important step for the community, and I’m happy to see it moving ahead.”
Councillors said they will want more frequent reviews and increases in future, so developers are not hit with large increases.
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