The City of White Rock plans to increase fees for development.

The City of White Rock plans to increase fees for development.

White Rock building fees to multiply

City planning department recommends significant fee increases to better reflect staff time on development permits, applications.

The City of White Rock plans to increase fees for building permits and planning applications, after staff presented council with recommendations for significant hikes.

Council was presented with two staff reports May 25, recommending White Rock increase building and plumbing permit fees and planning-application fees to better reflect the amount of time staff spend on such applications and to bring the city closer in line with what other municipalities charge.

According to director of planning and development services Karen Cooper, the need to increase the fees in White Rock is a reflection of the increased development in the city in recent years.

Cooper noted the city’s building permit and related fees received in 2014 nearly doubled what they were in 2013 – increasing from $700,000 to $1.2 million – and that the wait time for such applications to be processed is several weeks longer than the ideal timeframe of six to eight weeks.

“Our review of the fees that are charged found that they do not reflect the costs of staff time to review the building permit applications,” Cooper told council.

The biggest proposed increase in building permit applications would be for demolition fees. For a single-family dwelling or duplex, the city currently charges $100 for a demolition permit; under the proposed new fees, the permit would cost $1,000.

Cooper explained that a lot of the current redevelopment projects in White Rock involve the removal of an old single-family home, and described the work associated with such a demolition as “quite extensive,” and requiring staff inspections on site.

“These are significant increases, but they do accurately reflect the cost of staff time,” Cooper said.

Proposed increases to planning-application fees – which Cooper described as “out of whack” compared to the costs associated with administering those applications – would also be significant, with some application fees more than doubling.

“The whole process for reviewing development applications has become very time-consuming, because the developments have become more complex in White Rock,” Cooper said, pointing out that White Rock charges “significantly lower” application fees than other municipalities in the region.

Some of the more significant proposed application-fee increases include Official Community Plan amendments (from $2,400 to $5,000), amendment of a land-use contract ($1,000 to $2,000), amendment or time extension for a major development permit ($500 to $2,500), amendment or time extension for a minor development permit ($300 to $1,200) and amendment to preliminary layout approval ($100 to $1,000).

Council voted unanimously last week to give first, second and third reading to the proposed amendments; a vote to adopt the fee increases is expected to take place June 15.

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