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Saanich looks to nail down amenity payment schedule for developments

Interim community amenity policy meant to encourage rental, below-market housing
Saanich planning staff are looking to clarify with council whether future developments targeted for reduced community amenity contributions should be charged for units built above the height limits listed for their area in the official community plan. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

A vote on clarifying community amenity contributions (CAC) for new developments in Saanich is on hold until at least June 20.

An interim policy on CAC exemptions approved by council last August was, in part, designed to encourage development of purpose-built rental and below-market housing. With applications coming forward this year calling for building heights above the limits specified in Saanich’s official community plan, however, staff were looking to council to help clarify when CACs should be charged and what portion of projects should be exempted from paying them.

The interim policy allows a waiving of CACs for secured, not-for-profit rental housing projects. Also fully exempted are purpose-built rental units where rental tenure is secured for greater than 60 years or the life of the building; rental units secured for at least 10 years receive a 50-per-cent reduction to regular CAC rates.

Strata buildings where at least 10 per cent of the units sell for 10 per cent less than the current median market rate, for the life of the building, also receive a 50-per-cent reduction in community amenity contributions.

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Staff’s recommendation at the June 6 committee-of-the-whole meeting gained general agreement from several council members and simplified the wording in the CAC exemption section. It called for continuing to waive CACs for not-for-profit projects, having a 100-per-cent reduction for purpose-built rentals secured for 60 years, a 50-per-cent reduction for 10-year rental tenures and 50 per cent for below-market strata units sold during the lifespan of the building.

Those exemptions would only apply to developments or portions thereof that fall within the OCP height maximum for their area and within the Uptown-Douglas plan base height of 12 storeys.

With three members of council absent for the June 6 meeting, acting mayor Coun. Karen Harper suggested that the decision be deferred, given the importance of the CAC policy to the district’s housing strategy. The matter will be back for the June 20 meeting.

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