Chamber paints a dire picture

Business group in Parksville opposed to increases in development cost charges

An increase in development cost charges would be a signal from the City of Parksville that “we are not open for business,” says the executive director of the local chamber of commerce.

Mayor Chris Burger says he’s not surprised by the chamber’s stance.

The City of Parksville recently announced it was going to have a look at increasing the charges developers must pay for services the city must supply to news homes and other types of development. At one point, word out of city hall was DCCs could be increased by more than 40 per cent, which would put the city near the top of the list of the highest charges in the province.

“Given the decline in construction activity in the past four years it is our opinion that an increase in DCCs would be a further signal from the city that we are not open for business and that the work done over the past few years to smooth relationships with the development sector would be undone by such a move,” Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden said in a news release, adding that “the community has reached a critical phase in its development and that a focus needs to be placed on attracting suitable developments to our community.”

In response, Burger said it’s early days in the DCC-increase discussion.

“Given that this is the chamber of commerce, it’s no surprise that this is their position,” said the mayor. “But we’re still far away from coming to a conclusion as to what the DCC rates will be.”

Burger said the city needs to increase revenue to reflect “the reality of the cost of infrastructure today. Council is truly between a rock and a hard place here. There’s never a good time to raise any fee.”

Burden said given the decline in building the past four years, the chamber is of the opinion that an increase in DCCs would see a further reduction in building activity, with the resulting decrease in revenue from DCCs to the city.

“This could necessitate a tax increase to ensure the required revenue,” said Burden. “An increase in taxes is a certain revenue stream while an increase in DCCs is dependent on the number of new developments and would be reduced by a reduction in developments.”

“It is the chamber’s position that a DCC increase in the current market and economic climate will most certainly further slow development and that the city’s projections will again be much higher than the actual revenue received from DCCs,” Burden continued. “We recognize that increased taxes are never popular but are a necessary method to pay for large capital expenditures.”

Burger said he is hopeful all voices will be heard in the debate.

“The message is to work together and come up with a balance that will allow our community to progress,” he said. “We’re not going to push this forward without significant consultation.”

Burger said council could have a new DCC bylaw ready to send to Victoria — it’s one of the municipal bylaws that must pass the muster of the provincial government — by the end of the year.