The Oceanside Development and Construction Association                                                                                                                                          



Fee Hikes Shock Builders

By Brain Wilford
Oceanside Star
July 10, 2013

The city of Parksville's proposal to hike development cost charges by more than 50% has come as a "shock" to the local construction industry, says Duane Round, president of the Oceanside Development & Construction Association.

The ODCA had been told by the city that it would be evaluating its DCCs, charged to developers to cover the costs of additional water and sewer lines and so on, once it had completed its review of the Official Community Plan, Round said, but ODCA members "didn't know the extent" of the increases and "didn't realize" the city was so far advanced in the process as to give the necessary bylaws first reading last week.

"I believe we should have been consulted," said Round, who owns Parkwest Construction and has been in the local construction industry for more than 40 years. "What other government would kick an industry like this when they're down?" ODCA members are curious as to how the city decided it's going to need $46.2 million in DCCs over the next 20 years, he said.

 

"We want to have a look at the capital plan."

It appears the city is "putting the cart before the horse," he said, in that it's planning on collecting fees when it doesn't know the value of the projects or even if they'll be built.

"It's forcing people outside of Parksville," Round said. "You can't build a house in Parksville right now and make a profit and that's why you see all the development in French Creek and Coombs. It's a huge problem.

"Qualicum Beach just eliminated DCCs on downtown development but Parksville seems to be going in the opposite direction."

Under the proposed regime, DCCs on a single-family home will increase 44%, the charge per square metre for multi-family will increase 42%, for commercial 59%, for industrial 59% and for institutional 69%.

"You wouldn't do this to any other industry to put in this kind of tax increase," Round said. "The lots will just sit there because it doesn't make sense to build on them.

"Young families already can't afford to buy in the area. It's just one more kick in the butt for affordable housing in Parksville."

He suspects that "the big thing" behind the proposed increases is "to try to find more revenue to pay for this water treatment plant."

The city is under orders from the Vancouver Island Health Authority to construct a water treatment plant by 2016 or stop taking surface water from the Englishman River.

The city is estimating that the cost of the first phase of a new river-water intake, yet to be approved by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and treatment plant will be $37.5 million, though Round says he has heard numbers as low as $25 million and as high as more than $50 million. A proposal to include aquifer storage and recovery has been estimated at $5 million, though Round says he's been told that because ASR is experimental (the only other system in Canada is in a quite different sedimentary area in Waterloo, Ontario), the cost isn't really known.

It's expected that residents in Parksville and Nanoose Bay will be asked to approve borrowing for the water infrastructure in a referendum held in conjunction with the municipal elections in November 2014. "They've already spent millions on this (the intake, plant and ASR)," Round said. "They need to have the whole financial picture done before they keep doing this piecemeal. "When are they going to come to the citizens of Parksville with the numbers?... They need to get those numbers together and present them to the people, and not incrementally like this."

"That's exactly why it's here," realtor Amy Hadikin says when asked if the Sanika Close subdivision off Wembley Road was built in French Creek because it's too expensive to build in Parksville. "Plus RDN (Regional District of Nanaimo) taxes and large lots." The 37-lot development next to Oceanside Middle School offers one-and two-storey homes in the $359,000-$399,000 range. The 1,600-square-foot finished home to her left, listed at $379,000, has sold, as have many others in the subdivision, mainly to people in the "active 55-plus" demographic, Hadikin says. "It's moving." Duane Round: The treatment-plant costs must be disclosed.;

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