Council considering new development charges

The city of Fort St. John is set to implement a development cost charge to help cover the city’s expansion.

City council had asked that Urban Systems Ltd. to help the city develop a DCC program and bylaw. At a presentation made to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting last Monday, Karin Saxty from Urban Systems says DCCs are fairly common in British Columbia. She says it’s used to cover the costs of infrastructure related to residential, commercial, and industrial growth and that there is a section in the Local Government Act that allows municipalities to collect DCCs.

They can be used to pay for anything from transportation infrastructure to sanitary sewers, reservoirs, or parks, however only those associated with development. Saxty says the money from the charges can’t be used to cover infrastructure needed for the current population.

According to the City Manager, Dianne Hunter, DCCs are a charge that is levied on developers to help cover costs such as building new sewers or reservoirs as the city expands in size. The city is currently covering any projects needed due to its expansion, but would implement a levy on developments to help cover these costs.

The exact amount has not yet been determined and once the bylaw comes into effect there would probably also be a grace period of anywhere from a few months to a year where the costs would still be covered by the city.

After the grace period, developers would be charged a certain percentage of what a future sewer system or reservoir would be for the number of lots they are building and the city would cover the rest.

Saxty says there are a few development types that are exempt, such as ones that have less than four units or would cost less than $50,000. Furthermore, developments that would not impact infrastructure would not be charged DCCs.

The city can also choose to assist developers with their part of the percentage the developers would be paying for. Council informally chose a 30 per cent assist factor. For example, the city could help developers by paying 30 per cent of the amount the developer would have to pay.

Once a bylaw is drafted and read over, the Ministry of Community and Rural Development must approve the bylaw before it can be adopted by the city.

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