Kelowna city council raising charges to developers to pay for parks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna city council raising charges to developers to pay for parks

More soccer fields and other park projects will get built sooner in Kelowna now that city council has voted to charge builders an extra $7,000 on new homes.
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KELOWNA - It’s been more than a decade in coming but now is the time to start collecting money to build parks, Kelowna city councillor Luke Stack told Kelowna City Council today, Sept. 16.

Council voted 6-2 to force every new home in Kelowna to start paying $7,058 towards actually building parks, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

“The public does not understand why these lands were put aside for parks but have never been developed,” Stack led off the debate saying. He recalled that council tried to do this in 2011 but backed down because of pressure by developers saying that was not the right time, following the recession of 2008.

“Now, eight or nine years later, the criticism is this is not a good time to do it,” he said. “We need to have some courage and put it forward.”

In the past, the city collected a similar amount to buy parkland but is way behind in developing the parks. It will continue to charge to buy the land but add the new charge on top, bringing the average charges to developers for building a house in Kelowna to $35,000.

It was strongly opposed by the development community. There is a news conference scheduled tomorrow, Sept. 17, where the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, the Urban Development Institute and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce will respond.

Councillor Maxine DeHart did note that she has talked to developers who were actually in favour of the fee.

There was strong support from neighbourhood and sports associations when the new fee was proposed earlier this year.

Councillors did express concerns about this increasing the cost of housing but that it was vital to add quality of life to the city.

Councillors Mohini Singh and Brad Sieben voted against the change, arguing it should be phased in while councillor Gail Given was absent.

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