Don't see no CCC? Development charge regulations replaced indefinitely by negotiations

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
July 5th, 2012

The “CCCs”—Service Capacity Connection Charges—suggested by city staff in 2011 to replace DCCs—Development Cost Charges—appear to have fallen off the table, replaced instead by “flexible” negotiations.

“I am very curious about the Capacity Connection Charges,” Coun. Kathy Moore said during members’ reports at last week’s regular council meeting.

“I think they should come forward to council,” she said. “The last council saw a very complete presentation about them last July. And now that we’ve repealed the DCCs, we have no framework to collect on any future construction—other than just the water and sewage charge.”

“I would like to have whatever regulation we’re going forward with to be in place,” she said. “I was hoping we’d have that on the July 16th agenda or the August 13th agenda.”

Mayor Greg Granstrom replied, “I can guarantee it won’t make the 16th.”

CAO Victor Kumar agreed, “It won’t make it.”

“Okay, so when will it make it?” Moore asked.

Kumar said, “2013?”

The mayor said, “I think you know what we’re dealing with, and some issues we can’t speak of right now, but I think that we haven’t missed one dime in connection charges. If there was a developer who came tomorrow and said he wanted to do X, Y, Z, we could negotiate with him in a minute.”

“How would we be able to do that? We don’t have any legislation in place to ask for anything.” Moore asked.

“Certainly we do,” Granstrom said. “How’s this: we could call a special meeting? We could call a special meeting and pass a CCC bylaw.”

Moore laughed, “While I’m out of town, right?” then quickly clarified that she was “kidding” because she will soon be travelling.

Moore may also have been referring to the final design decisions on the Columbia-Washington project that were made during her two week absence in April, a decision Moore had argued could have happened much earlier, and a decision on which Moore was a main dissenting voice.

Similarly, Moore was the only counsellor to vote against the DCC repeal at the end of May, concerned about the void it left and the lack of clarity on what would take its place.

(Note that Coun. Cary Fisher has not participated in any development charge debates due to a perceived conflict of interest, given his ownership of Redstone Resort.)

Previously, Moore had been in favour of the DCC repeal and CCC replacement that stemmed from a years-long process of consultation and debate in the previous council that culminated in a city staff presentation of five alternatives—including both DCCs and CCCs—last September.

The new council continued the debate, primarily at a meeting in March in which the mayor and CAO championed the idea that the DCCs should be replaced by CCCs.

The CAO’s written recommendation to council said, “The key benefit [of the DCC repeal] is that the City may now move forward in developing a tool that will better serve the purpose related to direct development and cost recoveries for infrastructure development than does a DCC Bylaw.”

As the repeal vote drew closer, however, Moore’s reservations grew. “I didn’t get the answers I was looking for,” she told council on May 28, “I hope we’ll get something better [than DCCs].” She further argued that DCCs were not the problem so much as the unrealistic growth projections and project list the DCCs were based upon.

The mayor argued at the same meeting that the void left by DCCs was no problem: “[The situation] could be even more flexible [than the DCCs were.] It would all be in negotiations, and we can do that any time.”

Now that DCCs are repealed, but a CCC bylaw has yet to be tabled, Moore wants to know: why not?

“There was a complete proposal that was presented to the last council, last July, a year ago, in anticipation of [getting] rid of the DCCs—which we’ve done. In the annual report it said it was coming back to council in January. This is now June,” Moore said.

She explained, “I wasn’t thinking of a lot of work [for city staff], since the work has already been done—unless there were going to be changes to what was proposed?”

“There could very well be [changes],” the mayor replied. “[CCCs are] certainly on the radar. If council wishes to change some priorities, we can do that, but I think there are some pretty pressing issues for the next couple months here.”

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