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DCC debate continues in Parksville

Parksville's DCCs will increase one way or another, but likely dramatically less than originally proposed.

Last July, Parksville council received a report on the city's development cost charges (DCC) and proposed raising the rates as much as 50 per cent.

DCCs are meant to have developers pay the increased costs to the city's road, storm, water, sewer and parkland infrastructure, explained Mayor Chris Burger.

Pamela Lovegrove, city manager of budgets and special projects, presented the proposed update in July explaining the rates haven't changed in five years.

At that time she explained the lengthy approval process, which includes consultation with stakeholder groups and submission for provincial approval.

Over several meetings last year with groups like the Oceanside Development and Construction Association and Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, it was clear the development community was not in favour of a substantial increase in the DCCs, stating it would ruin any competitive advantage Parksville might have in attracting development.

On Monday, council received the re-worked proposed bylaw with changes, including dropping a number of dated future projects from the books and not charging DCCs for projects under $100,000.

Lovegrove presented council with five options based on a different estimate for the amount of grants from senior levels of government toward's the city's 74 per cent share in a roughly $40 million new Englishman River water intake and treatment facility.

With estimated grants ranging from zero to $8 million, the city’s borrowing requirement would range from $18 million to just under $10 million.

The resulting DCC increase per single family residential unit (currently $14,473) would range from just 0.12 per cent up to 16.48 per cent.

In each option, the water rate increases were similar, in the two to five per cent annual range, and the “municipal assist factor,” or help from the city to encourage development, stayed at one per cent, the lowest allowed in the province.

Staff recommended the conservative option number three, with $4 million in grants, but the discussion among council quickly leaned towards higher grant estimates, not wanting to send the message that they could build the project with less grant money.

Coun. Al Grier, who reminded the rest of council he’s always said DCCs are already too high, proposed option five with calculations based on $8 million in grants and the lowest DCC increase.

Coun. Bill Neufeld expressed frustration with the whole process, saying the calculations were based on a lot of assumptions he didn’t agree with and that the city was already hurting itself by not collecting as much DCC revenue as it could. He said when Las Vegas had to do expensive water work, it raised the DCCs 500 per cent and in Ontario some municipalities charge $42,000, or almost three times as much.

Coun. Marc Lefebvre reiterated the idea that high DCCs could scare away development and therefore the city would lose that potential revenue anyway.

“Let’s not beat each other up over what’s fair,” said Burger.

He said all the local interests need to work together on the water projects to be able to get as much back from senior governments, pointing out that municipalities only receive about 10 per cent of all taxes collected.

With only Neufeld voting against, council voted to proceed with the lowest increase option five, sending it on to the next council meeting for further consideration.

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