Thursday, June 10, 2021

Langley City Council supports 101-unit Birch Building affordable seniors rental housing project by reducing fees by $151,500

Entrance to Langley Lions Housing Society site. Select image to enlarge.

In BC, municipalities can levy development cost charges on new development projects to expand or build new infrastructure.

The provincial government has strict regulations for development cost charges. A municipality must go through a complex bylaw creation process that lists specific road, sewage, water, drainage, and parkland projects. Municipalities must prove that any project for which development cost charges are applied is required as a direct result of development. There is a 116-page guide on creating development cost charge bylaws, including complex calculations needed to “prove” the impact of development on a community. The provinical government must approve development cost charge bylaws.

Development cost charge regulations can be too restrictive. For example, with parkland projects, municipalities can use development cost charges for building some types of sports fields, swings, and slides, but not dugouts, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, sports tracks, park lighting, or parking lots. This example shows the overly restrictive nature of development cost charges.

As a result, municipalities negotiate developer-paid community amenity contributions during the rezoning process to help pay for projects required due to development, but are exempt from development cost charges. Examples include basketball courts and other park improvements, public art, affordable housing, and renewing roads, trails, sewers, and water mains.

Langely City uses both development cost charges and community amenity contributions.

The Langley Lions Housing Society provides affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities. They are in the process of building a new 101-unit Birch Building. They recently signed a housing agreement with Langely City to ensure that this building is mainly for seniors and remains affordable.

The Society requested that Langley City waive the $202,000 community amenity contribution for the Birch Building.

Langley City staff recommended that Council waive 75% of the community amenity contribution, which works out to $151,500. Constructing a housing agreement-secured, affordable, seniors-focused rental housing project is an amenity for our community. That being said, staff noted that “increased site density and a plan to allocate 20 percent of new units to non-seniors, it is also fair to anticipate that some increased demand for community amenities will be generated by new Langley Lions residents.”

The remaining $50,500 of community amenity contribution will support the new Birch Building residents’ additional amenities requirements.

Council supported staff’s recommendation and reduced the community amenity contribution for the Birch Building by 75%.

No comments: