Last updated 17 years ago, development cost charge (DCC) rates in the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) water service area are going up in most categories and will also be applied in Eastbourne, Egmont and Cove Cay, under a draft plan presented earlier this month to the SCRD’s infrastructure services committee.
The proposed new rates, which do not include North or South Pender Harbour, would see DCC rates for a single-family unit increase to $3,632 from the current rate of between $1,625 and $3,000.
Townhouse units, apartment units and congregate care units, also currently charged between $1,625 and $3,000, would see rates of $3,014, $2,433 and $1,525, respectively.
Commercial, industrial and institutional, now charged between $3.30 and $6 per square metres of gross floor area, would each increase to $10.90.
The new rate structure would do away with the current system that divides the region into three areas, each with different rates.
Proposed rates for Eastbourne and Egmont/Cove Cay are significantly higher in all categories than the recommended regional rates, with $5,951 and $5,684 proposed for single-family units in the respective areas, which currently are not included in the DCC schedule.
DCCs are used to pay for capital projects that support development growth, and the proposed increases in regional rates would cover the cost of expanding the Chapman water treatment plant, pegged at $7 million, and other major capital improvements to the water system.
Bob Twerdoff of Opus DaytonKnight said ratepayers on the regional system would pick up 37 per cent of total project costs, although some projects would be covered entirely by DCCs.
“If the percentage is 100 per cent, it’s because residents can do without the project,” Twerdoff told the committee.
He denied that the higher DCC rates would drive up housing prices.
“You’re going to hear that you’re affecting affordability of housing on the Sunshine Coast. That’s a myth,” he said. “Housing prices are based on market value — not costs.”
The impact of the changes can be reduced, he said, by having a six-month grace period after a new bylaw is adopted, and developers could apply for building permits before the new rates come into effect.
The new rate schedule would give an incentive for developers to build multi-family units, he added, as the rates are proportionately lower.
The new rates are based on an annual population growth of 1.2 per cent.
“Your existing bylaw used a three per cent growth rate, which has not occurred,” Twerdoff said. “That’s one reason why your DCC reserves are so low.”
The DCC reserve currently sits at about $800,000 while total estimated project costs for the regional service area are $25 million.
The Eastbourne project list includes groundwater testing and distribution upgrades, for a total of $525,000. Of that, a net total of $326,700 would be recovered from DCCs.
For Egmont/Cove Cay, distribution upgrades and small system assessments would cost $300,000, of which DCCs would contribute a net sum of $118,800.
Staff is recommending the board schedule public engagement on the proposed rates for the fall.
© Coast Reporter