Development cost charges need to increase so that Metro Vancouver sewage treatment plants can be upgraded, said the utilities committee chair. (Metro Vancouver)

Development cost charges could triple in parts of Metro Vancouver under new proposal

Utilities commission chair says rates aren’t keeping up with growth

Metro Vancouver real estate developers might be a bit more cautious if a proposed hike to development cost charges goes through this Friday.

The regional district’s board of directors is set to vote on an increase to those charges, known as DCCs, which utilities committee chair Darrell Mussatto says is more than a decade overdue.

“We as politicians have been asleep at the switch,” Mussatto said. “We should have been doing this 10-15 years ago.”

Development cost charges are a way for developers to fund new sanitary sewer works such as new pipes, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plant expansions. The policy in Metro Vancouver, Mussatto said, is that new growth pays for itself.

The last price increase was in 1997, but if the motion passes Friday, some areas could see their rates triple.

That includes the Fraser region – which encompasses Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley City, White Rock and parts of Delta, Langley Township, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Development Cost Charge Map by Katya Slepian on Scribd

Costs to build a single-family development in the Fraser region could shoot up by 213 per cent, while costs for townhouses and apartments could increase by 210 per cent and 226 per cent, respectively.

While other regions will fare better under the proposal, everyone except for the Vancouver region will see their development cost charges at least double, while Vancouver will see only slightly smaller increases.

Coun. David Woods of Surrey is worried about what that will do to already unaffordable housing prices.

“For a normal middle class working family, it’s becoming harder and harder to achieve home ownership,” Woods said.

Mussatto doesn’t think that homebuyers will bear the brunt of the cost. Instead, he sees developers becoming much more careful about what they build and where they build it.

READ MORE: Langley City best place to build a house in Lower Mainland: report

“Whoever is selling units is going to sell them for as much as they can already,” he said. “It’s not like someone is getting a discount now.”

Woods acknowledged there is no way to keep development cost charges where they are. He’s particularly concerned about the sewage lines under the Fraser River not being seismically sound.

READ MORE: Vancouver to limit housing pre-sales to locals

Developers have asked for the price hikes to be phased in over three years, Mussatto said, but he suspects there just isn’t time to wait.

“We’re in a spot where we have to do something,” he said. “Our growth is in the range of 40,000 per year [and] we’re spending hundreds of millions to accommodate that growth already.”

If the proposal passes, new costs are expected to go in by spring 2018.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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