Thursday, April 17, 2014

School Site Acquisition Charge to Double in Langley

In March, I posted about how Langley’s School District No. 35 is proposing to change its School Site Acquisition Charge from between $212.00 and $354.00 per new housing unit to between $443.00 and $737.00 per new housing unit. The School Site Acquisition Charge is paid by developers to help cover the cost of new school sites.

The City of Langley and some parts of the Township of Langley are seeing very modest population growth and declining school enrollment. This has resulted in school closures and former school district sites being sold off in these areas. In other parts of the Township of Langley, the School District cannot keep up with the increasing enrollment.

Due to these dynamics, the City of Langley objected to the uniform doubling of the School Site Acquisition Charge within the Langley School District. You can read more details on a previous blog post, but the end result for the City of Langley may be a chilling effects on development and a further decrease in housing affordability in the City of Langley.

The City rejected the School Site Acquisition Charge as proposed by the School District. Due to the rejection, the School District requested that the Minister of Education appoint a facilitator to resolve the differences between the City and the School District over the charge.

The Minister wrote back that the School Site Acquisition Charge, as proposed by the School District, would be the same in both the City and Township of Langley as he believed that the City did not follow due process that would result in a facilitator being appointed under the Local Government Act. Specifically he believe that the City did not:

In writing, do not accept the proposed school site requirements for the school district specifically indicating two things:
-each proposed eligible school site requirement to which it objected; and
-the reasons for the objection.

Of course the City objected to this. As I noted in a previous post, City Council had the option to seek mediation to resolve this difference of opinion between the Minister and City. Instead City Council decided to write another letter to the Ministry of Education requesting again that a facilitator be appointed. On April 2nd, the City received a reply from the Minister which, not surprisingly, stated that his opinion did not change.

At the last City Council meeting, Council had the option to again seek mediation or other legal recourse, but instead decided to do nothing. As a result, the School Acquisition Charge will be doubling in the City of Langley.

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