Growth in Ladysmith that has fallen behind expected levels is being considered in a recommended revamp of development cost charge fees. (Mike Youds file photo)

Ladysmith considering substantial jump in development cost charges

Community feedback sought as town considers a 37 per cent hike on new construction

Mike Youds Special to the Chronicle

Community consultation is about to begin on a development cost charge review that recommends substantial increases, the first in eight years for Ladysmith.

DCCs as they are commonly known are charges levied by a municipality on new construction to cover the cost of infrastructure — streets, water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage and parks. The charges are typically paid by developers and builders as part of the approval process on residential, commercial and industrial projects.

The DCC review began in 2016 and culminated last year with a series of council workshops. At December’s final session, council directed staff to start consultation on the draft DCC bylaw. They’ve proposed a new DCC for single family dwelling set at $17,572, a 37 percent increase from the current $12,779.

Increases in the single-family cost charge were considered in the range of $18,000 to $22,000 during workshop discussions.

Raising DCCs is a delicate balancing act since hefty increases can put a crimp on new construction as a result of development higher costs. Neighbouring municipalities try to remain competitive to attract investment. Existing DCCs in Ladysmith lie in the middle of the pack among Island municipalities. They range from a low of $5,685 in Campbell River to a high of $24,557 in Parksville for single family dwellings.

Current DCCs are based on the expectation that Ladysmith would grow by almost 5,000 people during the 20-year DCC program. That forecast turned out to be on the high side, so the proposed DCC program reduces the growth projection to 3,000 in 20 years.

Council has some flexibility in setting DCCs using what’s referred to as a “municipal assist factor.” Covering a minimum of one percent of the cost charge, the assist factor spreads out the development cost among all property owners.

An open house is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 13, 4-6 p.m. at Frank Jameson Community Centre, 810 Sixth Ave.

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