Central Saanich council approved changes to the municipality’s incentive structure for developments earlier this month (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich changes incentives for housing developments

Changes shift incentives for some developments from development cost charges to building permit fees

Central Saanich has lowered building permit fees for certain types of developments in changing its incentive structure.

“We just removed some of the incentives within the development cost charges bylaw, and moved those incentives into the building permit [process],” said Patrick Robbins, Central Saanich’s chief administrative officer.

The changes amend a bylaw passed in 2017 that reduces development cost charges (DDCs) by 30 per cent for developments that fall into five categories.

Three of those categories — low greenhouse gas emission (compact) developments and low environment impact (high energy efficiency) developments under part 3 and part 9 of the building code in compliance with the BC Energy Step Code — will no longer be eligible for such reductions. Their future developers will instead get break on their building permits, if they comply with the Step Code, “equivalent” to one step higher than required by bylaw. By way of context, building permit fees are calculated on the value of developments.

Two categories of developments — not-for-profit rental housing, including supportive living housing and for-profit affordable rental housing — will remain eligible to receive the discount.

Robbins said the previous arrangement did not offer much of an incentive to developers. “The intent just wasn’t being meet,” he said. A staff report notes that the typical multi-storey residential development would be eligible for a DCC reduction as a compact development, which was not the intention. Or in other words, developers found it relatively easy to meet the previous criteria.

RELATED: Central Saanich accused of not following Climate Emergency declaration with urgent action

It is not clear what sort of financial impact the change will have. “We haven’t had much experience yet to date, because this is so new, in terms of any revenue impacts,” said Robbins. “We believe within our budgeting, that this shouldn’t have any significant effect.”

Robbins said the changes align with council’s goal to create a more compact, more environmentally sustainable community through incentives that meet certain criteria, while acknowledging that it would be difficult to qualitatively or quantitatively assess the impact of the changes.

“It’s all towards working [the goal of] reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.



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