Ladysmith wants more money from developers

Town looks at raising development fees to help pay for infrastructure

Mike Youds Special to the Chronicle

The deadline looms to let the Town of Ladysmith know what you think of proposed development cost charges that will significantly add to the cost of building in Ladysmith.

Friday, March 8, is the last day for feedback on the cost charges (DCCs) after a year-long review — the first since 2011 — recommended significant increases, just under $5,000 for a typical single-family development.

Dozens of people attended a Feb. 27 open house at Frank Jameson Community Centre on the results of the review.

“I think, when it comes to development, it’s the cost of doing business,” said Judith Rae, a town resident. “Everybody’s moving to Ladysmith. The fact is, we don’t have the infrastructure to cover these people.”

Glenn Carey, project manager of the Holland Creek development, made precisely the same point. Holland Creek, with an eventual build-out of 610 single family and multi-family units, is the largest residential development in town.

“So far, there’s no alarm bell going off, but we’d like to see the report from council,” Carey said.

DCCs, collected from developers or builders, are used by local governments to spread out various costs associated with population growth. The formula used is based on the projected growth rate and cost of adding infrastructure such as the new water filtration plant, wastewater treatment, storm sewer, roads and parks.

Geoff Goodall, director of public infrastructure, noted that Ladysmith’s population growth fell short of projections after the rates were last set eight years ago. Development slowed, partly due to fallout from the 2008 recession. This time, the 20-year projected growth rate is a more modest 1.5 percent per year.

“There is a little bit of a crystal ball to it,” he said. “You certainly don’t want to grossly overestimate or underestimate.”

The current DCC for single family developments is $12,779. This would rise to $17,569, a 37-percent increase, if the revised bylaw passes. That would put the standard rate in Ladysmith slightly above that of Comox and just below that of Courtenay.

The provincial government recommends that municipalities adjust their DCCs every five years.

Staff will review the feedback following the March 8 deadline and report back to council at a future meeting with recommendations.

For details on the DCC review, see the Town of Ladysmith’s website.

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