by Dave Preston
The District of Peachland wants to proceed with a new amenity contribution policy, but two developers that will contribute the lion’s share for future amenities aren’t so sure the district is headed in the right direction.
At issue is a proposed Voluntary Amenity Contribution Policy that has been before district council at least twice. Council wanted public input on the issue and held an open house Wednesday.
Only a couple of dozen people turned up at the open house, but at least five of those represented three of the biggest developments ever proposed: Ponderosa/Pincushion, New Monaco and the so far unnamed downtown development between Second and Third Streets.
Development increases the value of land substantially and many municipalities want a part of that increase, according to Dave Smith, the district’s director of planning and development services.
“Some communities say the community should capture some of that value,” said Smith.
District staff is proposing two steps be taken by council: An Official Community Plan amendment that will set the general context for future developer contributions, and the policy itself, which will be more detailed and spell out what developers should pay.
“There should be a rational connection” between what the community wants and the future cost to developers, Smith said.
Staff came up with a list of future amenities that would benefit the community and that developers could contribute towards and the list includes such things as a new fire hall, an extension of the waterfront walkway to Davis Cove, an arena and upgrades to the museum, community centre and Primary School.
In total the list comprises some $17.8 million in amenities that could be recovered by future development. Treegroup had previously agreed to contribute $4.2 million towards amenities, leaving $13.6 million to be recovered by other developments.
Smith said the estimated growth in Peachland, not including Ponderosa/Pincushion, is 4,400 living units over the next 20-plus years. Trying to recover $13.6 million from the future developments would mean a contribution of $2,787 per dwelling unit.
When that figure went to council for consideration, council asked staff to recalculate based on developers paying 75 per cent of the $13.6 million. The result was a contribution of $1,877 per dwelling unit, which Smith said Wednesday is close to what Treegroup has already agreed to.
“It’s been a really difficult exercise,” said Smith.
This reporter asked Smith why the district is labelling the proposed policy as voluntary when it seems the district intends on making sure developers pay whatever fee council approves.
“Even though it’s voluntary, it’s a community building exercise,” said Smith. “So far, developers have shown interest.”
Perhaps not enough interest, however.
New Monaco sent a letter to council earlier this year in which the developer raised concerns that the proposed policy is asking too much of the development. At Wednesday’s open house, the man behind downtown redevelopment expressed concern also.
Peachland has little momentum as far as business growth and a very small business tax base and the proposed policy could “scare away developers,” said Steve Allison, whose company TNI Property Management is behind future development in the downtown core.
“I’m concerned,” said Allison.
While Smith told open house participants that the district holds “the big hammer” of being able to approve or disapprove zoning, Coun. Terry Condon mentioned that the district can’t remove the word voluntary from the policy because council can’t force developers to pay the fees.