There has been a noticeable increase in development permit applications in Langley City by builders trying to get their projects approved before new regional development costs charges drive up prices.
Effective May 1, the Fraser Sewerage area development cost charge (DCC) will more than triple in the Langleys, with the cost of a single family residential project going from $1,711 a unit to $5,428, a 217 per cent hike, while townhouses go from a DCC of $1,515 a unit to $4,695, a 210 per cent hike, and apartments go up from $1,082 a unit to $3,531, a hike of 226 per cent.
Non-residential properties also face a big jump, from 82 cents per square foot to $2.67 a square foot, a 226 per cent hike.
Those are the highest increases in Metro Vancouver.
The three other sewerage areas, Vancouver, North Shore And Lulu Island, will see hikes ranging between 78 and 111 per cent.
According to a Metro report, this is because the Fraser area is expected to see 73 per cent of all the growth in Metro Vancouver and the majority of projects are within the Fraser Sewerage Area.
While exact figures are not available, staff at Langley City are reporting an increase in applications from builders specifically asking if their application can be processed before May 1.
“I think there has been a surge, for sure,” said Rick Bomhof, director of Engineering, Parks and Environment.
The DCC hikes represent a catch-up by the Metro Vancouver regional authority, which said the rates have not been adjusted since they were passed in 1997.
“At the introduction of the DCC program (in 1997), rates were set based on the development plans of member municipalities and the necessary infrastructure expansion required to service that development,” Metro Vancouver noted on its website.
“Since that time, DCC rates have not been updated, despite the significant growth in development throughout the Metro Vancouver region, the increasing need for system expansion, and the rising cost of liquid waste infrastructure.”
Councillor Gayle Martin said Metro should have phased in the increase rather than implementing it all at once.
“Here we are, 20 years later. Why wasn’t someone looking at this?” Martin said.
“It’s unbelievable. Our increase is three times what everyone else’s is.”
Housing affordability is already a huge concern in the Lower Mainland, Martin said, adding the sharp increase in DCCs won’t help.
“There’s going to definitely be an added expense, Mayor Ted Schaffer said.
“It will affect the new developments.”
The ability of the City’s already-busy permit staff to accommodate the surge of requests for expedited processing is limited.
The municipality saw the number of projects more than double last year, passing the $100 million and setting an all-time record.
Much of it was the result of an increase in multi-family condos, townhouses and market rentals, from 128 residential units worth $22.4 million in 2016 to 421 residential units with a value of $77.7 million in 2017.
In all, 368 building permits were issued in 2017 compared to 333 the previous year.
Over the previous five years, building permits have averaged $41.5 million a year.
Over at the Township of Langley, while permit appliocations are up, Ramin Seifi, the Township’s general manager of Engineering and Community Development, doesn’t think the increase is tied to the DCC hikes.
“The Township of Langley has received an above-average volume of development applications over the past year or so,” Seifi said in response to a Times query.
“While fees and charges are always a factor in the timing of development applications, (Township) staff does not believe that the increase in activity is directly attributed the proposed increase in regional DCCs.”
The Township of Langley recorded $511 million in building permits in 2017, up from $444 million the year before.
– with files from Brenda Anderson