LETTER: City predicts growth or stagnation...depending on the situation?

By Contributor
September 24th, 2011

Dear editor,

A City of Rossland staff report on Development Cost Charges (DCCs), was discussed on September 12th, at a Committee of the Whole (COW) council meeting. The staff report under discussion recommended reducing Development Cost Charges (DCCs) from $3,300 to $2,320 for a single-family dwelling (SFD). Compare this with the average of nearly $13,000 for 45 BC municipalities surveyed.

This proposal should be unacceptable to Rossland taxpayers. Maybe this is why the e-mail notifying members of the public about the meeting was sent out 8 minutes after the meeting started!  DCCs were set too low when they were introduced in 2004.   In May 2009, AECOM, a consultant with expertise in DCCs, recommended substantial increases to $13,779 per single family dwelling equivalent at Red Mountain and $8,624 at Redstone and the City Core. Council has chosen to ignore this recommendation.  The recent staff report unreasonably uses the low rate of growth experienced during the last three recession years as a basis for predicting a low rate of growth in the future. It uses 300 units and a projected population increase of 720 over the next 15 years to justify lowering DCCs. This approach excludes some projects or reduces the percentage allocated to development. For example, some of the same projects previously attributed by expert consultants as 100% to development are now allocated unfairly at 85% to taxpayers.  On the other hand, the City uses high rates of growth when it suits their purpose. For example, the grant application for the Columbia/Washington project says: “The City’s infill policy, along with the potential build-out of 1500 more dwelling units at the Red Mountain base area, demands an upgrade/expansion of the existing lines to meet both existing and future flow rates.”  It says a future build-out could push the population figure to beyond 10,000 during periods of high volume tourist visits.  Why does the City use large growth projections to support a government grant application and low growth projections to justify a reduction in DCCs? This would appear to be manipulation of numbers to suit whatever end result the City wants to justify!  Why are DCCs set at a level that can not possibly accumulate sufficient funds to pay for the future projects needed to increase infrastructure capacity for the City’s long-term development plans? The Official Community Plan still includes for 2,400 additional units in the future. If Council and staff don’t believe that this will ever happen, the OCP should be changed to reduce the numbers.  Taxpayers should question the motive for proposing a reduction. DCCs are not a significant factor in development decisions. Surrey, for example, has the highest rate of development in BC, and the highest DCCs at about $26,000 per single family dwelling. If Rossland wants to achieve the optimistic level of development in its Official Community Plan, it should focus on other factors to attract development rather than trying to just reduce DCCs.   Enough is enough! Rossland taxes are already too high. It is unacceptable policy to pass the cost of infrastructure for future development on to taxpayers through additional taxes in the future. Asking for another report on alternatives to DCCs will just provide yet another excuse to delay dealing with this important issue.   Ken Holmes  Rossland


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