February 26, 2015 - 7:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - The confusion over development cost charges and the complexity of the mandatory charge came to a head Tuesday with Habitat for Humanity asking to have the charges waived on affordable home ownership projects and members of the public questioning how they affect larger capital projects.
Development cost charges, commonly referred to as DCCs by city staff, council members and developers, is a charge levied on development in the city.
The money is put into a fund that later pays for capital project upgrades and maintenance servicing the development, such as sewer and road upgrades, and for providing or maintaining green spaces in the neighbourhood. There are regulations on exactly what type of projects qualify to be funded by the charges.
The amount charged varies by type of dwelling unit and at the highest end single family residences are levied at $9,525. Not-for-profit rental housing is one of the few exemptions from the charge. This week the executive director of the local Habitat chapter asked to have not-for-profit home ownership exempt as well.
Jan Lingford says the charges strain the program, which provides low-income families with affordable homeownership by selling the houses at fair market value less a discount and by carrying an interest free mortgage on the property. The group builds one or two units per year. This year they are working on a duplex in Westsyde, and hoped council would approve the exemption and ask provincial groups, such as the Union of B.C. Municipalities, to endorse it as well.
The concern around the council table was that the exemption would have to be extended to more housing and that taxpayers would end up on the receiving end of the cost charges lost to an exemption. After talking around the issue for a good portion of the meeting Tuesday afternoon, council decided to have staff look at alternatives to a complete exemption.
Concern over the cost charges and how they are spent then came up at the budget meeting Tuesday evening. Several residents took issue with some of the larger projects on the wish list for the 2015 budget and voiced displeasure over how it would ultimately affect the tax rate. The use of cost charges will help offset the cost of some of those projects, though exact numbers were not immediately available.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015