The City of White Rock is reviewing its fees charged to proponents of development applications.

Proposed increased building rates in White Rock ‘still low’

Development Cost Charges set to increase in White Rock after years-old call for review.

The City of White Rock has launched a review of its Development Cost Charges (DCCs) bylaw, and while the proposed increases to the fees charged to developers are significant, the city’s rates are still expected to remain among the lowest in Metro Vancouver.

The city’s DCCs – fees charged to applicants for new developments, meant to help the city recover costs of infrastructure required as a result of growth – were outlined in a report to council Oct. 5 by Dan Huang, senior planner at Urban Systems, along with proposed figures.

The review marks the first time in nearly 10 years the city has updated its DCCs, according to Huang, who outlined the formula used to calculate the rates, which are broken down into single-family residential, multi-family residential, commercial and industrial.

The DCC rate is calculated by dividing the units of growth by the DCC recoverable cost (the total program costs minus the portion allocated to existing development and the municipal assist factor).

The proposed rates for White Rock – charged per unit for residential and per square metre for commercial and institutional – are $10,757.75 for single-family (currently $5,602.26); $6,812.15 for multifamily (currently $4,011.36); $25.55 per sq. m for commercial (currently $13.54); and $18.09 per sq. m for institutional (currently $8.70).

Though the increases are described by Huang as “fairly significant,” the proposed rates still put White Rock among the lowest in Metro Vancouver, something that raised concerns among two councillors.

Coun. Lynne Sinclair asked Huang if the rates will still be too low after the review process, pointing out it was the council of 2005-’08 that first voted to review and increase the city’s DCCs, a process only getting underway now.

“If we don’t do it right this time, is it going to be another 10 years?” Sinclair asked. “I’m a little concerned about that.”

Coun. Helen Fathers said she was concerned residents would wonder why the city couldn’t charge more of applicants.

Huang explained that because the rates are based on a specific formula, legislated by the Local Government Act and the DCC Best Practices Guide, the city can’t determine its own rates.

“There’s a technical process. You can’t artificially make them low and you can’t artificially make them high,” Huang explained, noting most municipalities find their DCCs too high.

“It’s the amount of growth in a specific community and then the capital infrastructure required to service that growth.”

Council voted to give first reading to the proposed bylaw; Huang will now prepare a background report and undertake community consultation, including a forum set for Oct. 29, 6-8 p.m. at the White Rock Community Centre. After third reading, the bylaw would require provincial approval. Huang said adoption of the bylaw should take place in early 2016.

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