North Cowichan looking at big jump in culvert fees for developers

Current installation fee well below market value

Some costs for builders in North Cowichan could soon see a big jump, and the implications were discussed at length by council.

The municipality’s current fee of installing a typical 300 millimetre diameter, seven-meter long, culvert in the driveways at new developments, which has been in place for years, is $816.

The new fee staff is proposing is $2,320, which is almost three times the price.

A staff report stated that the proposed new fee reflects the actual cost of installation, which includes labour, materials and equipment.

“It is an average since some installations are simpler than others,” the report said.

“Larger diameter culverts are charged at actual costs. Raising the fee reduces the burden on taxpayers who are currently subsidizing the difference in the actual cost and the current fee charged. It also ensures that development pays the initial capital cost.”

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Council gave the first three reading to the bylaw to allow the increase in fees at its meeting on June 19.

But Coun. Tek Manhas said that he felt the big jump in the fee for culvert installation is “quite a bit all at once” for the development community.

“Could we spread it out over a number of years?” he asked.

CAO Ted Swabey said the fee for culvert installation is so inconsistent with the municipality’s other development fees, staff recommended to immediately raise it to the level where it would cover actual costs.

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Coun. Kate Marsh said she has nothing against developers, but having the municipality cover such high costs is challenging for its taxpayers and it should be up to developers to pay these costs.

“We have a high poverty rate here and it’s fair to say that developers make more money that the average citizen,” she said.

“Many new homes are being built for people coming here to retire and our young people should not have to subsidize retiring people.”

Mayor Al Siebring said it appears that the municipality has not been keeping pace with the actual costs of development over the years.

Swabey said the culvert fee is just one of many, and staff is reviewing North Cowichan’s development cost charges policy.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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