by Dave Preston
A proposed council policy and associated Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment are not sitting well with the people behind the biggest development ever planned for Peachland.
“We believe there are many questions to be addressed regarding the establishment of a funding mechanism to fund future amenities in the community and the effects will be far reaching for future projects, particularly large mixed used and multiyear time horizon projects,” wrote Paul Tsang, managing partner of New Monaco Enterprise Corp. to the District of Peachland.
At issue is the district’s Amenity Contribution Policy, which would require future developments to contribute funds to the town so that public amenities can be built in the future.
Peachland council and staff have been working on the policy for months. The idea came from a Master Development Agreement between the district and Ponderosa/Pincushion Ridge developer Treegroup, which outlines contributions the developer will make to the town for amenities.
“As a result of anticipated growth in Peachland there will be an associated need for community amenities/facilities,” said CAO Elsie Lemke, in a report to council Tuesday. “Staff has been reviewing how such amenities/facilities could be planned for and funded into the future.”
“Every member of our community will benefit from amenities,” said Coun. Peter Schierbeck, who cautioned that the district shouldn’t be seen as “jumping all over developers.”
“I really feel we don’t want to discourage development,” said Schierbeck. “We could scare them away.”
Staff is proposing that developers pay $2,163 for every residential unit built. The money would go into an account that would fund future public amenities.
“I think the cost is way too high,” said Coun. Vern Moberg.
Coun. Lindsay Bell said she is concerned that developers of large developments won’t put amenities in their developments if the district charges for future amenities.
“One thing we were trying to do… was to try to be very consistent with what other communities are doing,” said Lemke.
“To implement a significant fixed sum of amenity contributions on top of Peachland’s DCCs may cause new homes to be unaffordable and businesses to fail, especially when the market is slow and construction cost remain constant or increase,” warned New Monaco’s Tsang.
Other concerns raised by New Monaco include:
* Each development project is unique and how each development contributes could differ vastly;
* Unreasonably high development costs make the risks too great for developers and will drive away development and business investment;
* The proposed amenity contribution charge is at least 50 per cent higher than what Treegroup will contribute for its development.
Dave Smith, director of planning, said staff has calculated that the proposed $2,163 fee per residential unit is very close to what Treegroup has agreed to.
“When the community experiences growth on the scale we are looking at, there are enormous costs,” said Mayor Keith Fielding. “That’s why DCCs are levied. There isn’t any mechanism to collect revenues for amenities.”
Fielding said it is not fair to put the cost of future amenities solely on general taxpayers.
“It may seem a lot of money, but if we don’t generate it through this mechanism, we have to find the revenue,” said Fielding.
Current development cost charges, which are levied against developments to pay for such things as road and water system upgrades, range from $14,000 to $17,000 per residential unit, according to Smith.
Council decided to hold off on the OCP amendment and policy until a consultation process can be started with stakeholders, including existing developers of significant projects.
New Monaco is proposing construction 2,600 to 2,800 living units on land it owns at the intersection of Hwy. 97 and Hwy. 97C.