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Directors see a problem with building fee cost structure, after revenue exceeds expectations

The board of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has decided to review the building permit fee cost structure for high-value building projects.
June 05, 2017 - 5:30 PM

PENTICTON - A massive winery being built in the South Okanagan has regional district directors looking at the fee structure for building permits.

Building Department supervisor Laura Miller told a Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen meeting last week, the annual building permit fee revenue had almost been reached by the end of May.

A big reason for that was because $270,000 of the $496,743.11 collected in fees to date had come from a single $30 million winery project near Oliver.

“We might want to take a look at our fee schedule, which probably makes sense for single family dwellings, and even up to a couple million dollars, but somewhere here we’re hitting a scale which our line of 12 per cent (of contract value) no longer makes sense,” West Bench Director Michael Brydon said.

Brydon said if the value charged for permits didn’t reflect true costs of doing business, the regional district stood to lose “all moral high ground with everyone else.”

"As a result, I think we should give some of this money back,” he said, calling such charges a disincentive to build such things as wineries.

Area D alternate director Tom Styffe agreed with Brydon, noting his area was about to embark on a $7 million dollar senior’s housing project, calling the fee a "significant hit” on a public building. Styffe called for a staff review of the cost structure.

Cawston director George Bush said he was against looking at the fee schedule, as it was something that “hadn’t even been brought to us as a problem."

Osoyoos Rural director Mark Pendergraft said the board, if going down that road, needed to look at everything, including development permit fees and applications to the planning department. He said the regional district had, in the past, performed the initial work only to have a developer cancel the project, leaving the regional district with nothing to show for their time.

Planning supervisor Chris Garrish agreed, noting the public generally subsidized planning fees.

The directors approved a motion to have staff look at building permit fee cost structure for mega-projects in the regional district.


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