The DCCs in Maple Ridge are already far higher than many municipalities in the Metro Vancouver Regional District. (files)

Letter: Council could be hurting downtown development

Significant tax increases will raise the cost of housing in Maple Ridge.

Editor, The News:

Re: Maple Ridge looks at raising development fees.

Thank you for your article regarding the proposed increase to the development cost charges in Maple Ridge.

It’s important that the local media cover proposed tax increases, however we would like to note that the proposed increases are in many cases more significant than stated in your article.

Our construction and development task force has reviewed the proposed changes. It determined that while it is true the proposed increase for a 130 sq. m (1,400 sq. ft.) townhouse in the infill area is 10.4 per cent (from $121/sq. m to $134/sq. m), the proposed increase for a 177 sq. m (1,900 sq. ft.) townhouse in the infill area is 53.9 per cent (from $12,993 to $20,000).

In addition, the fee for a 102 sq, m (1,100 sq. ft.) apartment in the infill area will rise from $8,047/unit to $14,000/unit – a 74 per cent increase.

The proposed change for a 2,000 sq. ft. single-family house in the rural area will raise the DCCs from $9,923/unit to $22,470/unit, an increase of 126.4 per cent.

The fee increases are also notable in comparison to other municipalities not listed in the bylaw report to council:

• Maple Ridge, proposed new townhouse DCC: $134.21/sq. m.

• District of North Vancouver, new townhouse DCC: $94.23/sq. m;

• City of North Vancouver, new townhouse DCC: $62.17/sq. m;

• Delta, new townhouse DCC: $59.72/sq. m;

• Burnaby, new townhouse DCC: $41.98/sq. m;

The pattern follows for apartments:

• Maple Ridge, proposed new apartment DCC: $132.40/sq. m;

• District of North Vancouver, new apartment DCC: $99.79/sq. m;

• City of North Vancouver, new apartment DCC: $62.17/sq. m;

• Delta, new apartment DCC: $72.21/sq. m;

• Burnaby, new apartment DCC: $46.00/sq. m.

The DCCs in Maple Ridge are already far higher than many municipalities in the Metro Vancouver Regional District, and the proposed increases are greater than publicly represented by the information.

In addition to the proposed DCC increases, council has recently expanded the city-wide community amenity contribution program, which is a tax of $3,100–$5,100 on new homes, and eliminated the downtown core incentive program, amounting to severe increases to the cost of new housing in Maple Ridge.

The downtown core is of particular significance given the OCP priority was to develop and revitalize this area first, where until the year-end of 2016 there was relief on DCCs and permits along with three-year property tax exemptions.

Given council’s recent decisions, the cost of residential and commercial buildings in the downtown core have lost those exemptions and, with little time to adapt, now take on substantial additional development charges.

The downtown is far from reaching the tipping point on mandated employment generation targets, and we suggest consideration be given toward some measure of transition rather than applying all these increases. These decisions will most likely impede development in our downtown core, an area acutely in need of redevelopment.

According to the city’s 2016 Citizen’s Report, from 2012 to 2016, Maple Ridge increased its development revenue from $5.17 million to $18.04 million—an increase of 249 per cent.

This increase far outpaces those in housing costs over that same period. Maple Ridge has in fact been benefiting greatly from development, though public sentiment seems to often miss this fact.

These significant tax increases will raise the cost of housing in Maple Ridge and further marginalize those on the fringes of the housing market. They assuredly result in negative consequences for revitalization of our downtown core and on employment creation.

These taxes run counter to the city’s stated goals in existing policies, such as the council-approved Official Community Plan, Housing Action Plan, the Maple Ridge Town Centre Area plan and the Metro Vancouver 2040 Plan, all of which strive to positively impact the supply and affordability of the much needed various forms of housing.

The additional costs to development are all transferred to the consumer and will dampen employment and affordability in a region where many families can no longer afford housing.

Michael Morden, president

Chamber of Commerce serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Editor’s note: Mr. Morden is a former Maple Ridge councillor who ran for mayor in the last municipal election.

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