By Lyonel Doherty
The Town of Oliver has rejected a staff recommendation to reduce development cost charges (DCCs) on the new affordable housing project on Airport Street.
On Monday, Director of Development Services Randy Houle recommended the Town provide a 50 per cent reduction for non-profit rental housing and for-profit affordable rental housing.
He informed council that the affordable housing project at 5931 Airport Street is requesting the waiving or reduction of $225,000 in DCCs. (The Town’s current bylaw has no provision to waive these fees, therefore, the policy would have to be amended.)
Development cost charges assessed to developers help municipalities fund future capital projects.
“That being said, this amendment can be viewed as the Town’s contribution to much-needed affordable housing projects,” Houle said, adding that staff consider this a win-win situation.
But council did not agree.
Councillor Dave Mattes expressed a concern that the Airport Street developer will be the primary benefactor of the reduced DCCs.
“After it is built it will be handed off to a non-profit society, which will not benefit from this. The benefit of doing this will only flow to the developer at the start, it will not flow to the end user, and that’s a real concern for me.”
At first, Councillor Aimee Grice disagreed, saying the community will benefit at the end of the day because it will be getting affordable housing.
Houle said he was told by the developer that if some of the DCCs were reduced, that would help lower the rents.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger said he sees reducing the DCCs the same as giving the developer a tax exemption. He added that Oliver has a limited tax base, and losing out on $225,000 would be a big hit for the municipality.
Mattes said taxpayers should not be subsidizing this project, especially when council doesn’t know how much it needs in the DCC fund to complete future projects.
When Chief Financial Officer Doug Leahy mentioned that the project could be tax exempted already under affordable housing legislation, Grice changed her tune and said she would not be in favour of reducing the DCCs.
Schwartzenberger said if the developer can’t build the project after being tax exempted and receiving funding ($4.6 million) from the province, the Town shouldn’t be waiving any DCCs.