Councillors in Sechelt are holding off on a decision about waiving all development cost charges (DCC) for the Lions Housing Society’s expansion of Greenecourt.
The next phase at Greenecourt, on Ocean Avenue in downtown Sechelt, is being funded in part by a $10.4-million investment from BC Housing and will include a 104-unit apartment building.
The units will be 50 per cent rent geared to income, 20 per cent for low-income subsidized tenants and 30 per cent “affordable market” rentals.
Under Sechelt’s current bylaws, the units in the first two categories qualify for a full DCC waiver, but the units slated for rental at affordable market rates do not.
A typical DCC on an apartment unit in Sechelt is $10,000.
A staff report presented at the Sept. 9 committee of the whole meeting said the Lions Housing Society has requested a DCC waiver for all the units, which would require a bylaw amendment that could have implications for other non-profit housing projects in the district.
“The Lions Housing Society proposal for the Greenecourt building could set the example,” the report said. “If a future proposal included only moderate income – affordable market rents it would be eligible for a 30 per cent reduction, but if it contained a mix of the three categories within no more than 30 per cent of moderate income – affordable market rents it could be eligible for full reduction.”
The committee passed recommendations that council approve the full waiver for the 70 per cent of the new Greenecourt units that will be in the categories already eligible under the bylaw, but did not go forward with a recommendation on the affordable market rent units.
Coun. Matt McLean said DCC waivers should be seen as a key part of the municipality’s contribution to the project.
“When [the province] looks at communities to invest in and put affordable housing projects, they’re looking for municipalities to come forward too,” he said. “If a municipality is not supporting an affordable housing project and treating it like any other development, do we get this funding?”
Coun. Tom Lamb said he wants to see the project move forward and is willing to support it in any way he can, but feels any provincial expectation that municipalities fund affordable housing is downloading provincial responsibilities.
“Once again, it’s the province downloading stuff into the community and putting more pressure on the community for more dollars, that have to come out of our community. And that’s where I struggle,” he said.
Instead of making a recommendation on DCC waivers for the affordable market rent units, the committee moved to have the planning department report back on the total cost to the district of waiving DCCs before considering a possible bylaw amendment that would apply to future projects.
“We were all in support of affordable housing in our community [during the election], it’s something we need,” said Coun. Janice Kuester. “And I think that having the full picture will help us move forward with a bylaw and future developments coming through for affordable housing.”