Despite criticism from the business community, a controversial new parks development fee was passed by Kelowna city councillors on Monday.
Council amended the DCC bylaw, which will now be forwarded to B.C. Ministry of Community Services for approval.
After initially adopting it in 2011, the DCC bylaw was updated in 2016 and again in 2019 to reflect current land and construction costs, ensuring adequate funding for growth-related infrastructure.
The proposed park development and linear park acquisition DCCs will change the program by $113 million. The proposed DCC increase will be funded $73.7 million (65 per cent) from DCCs and $39.3 million (35 per cent) from the city in the form of taxation, gas tax, infrastructure levy and parks revenue.
The amended bylaw will see an additional $7,180 paid by developers on every new residential condo or home, to offset some of the infrastructure expenditures incurred to service the further growth of parks in the city.
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Urban Development Institute and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of the Central Okanagan all came out against the increase while the city was developing the plan.
Couns. Loyal Wooldridge and Brad Sieben were the only two to oppose the amendment.
Wooldridge, while initially in favour of the proposed changes, went against the amendment this time around.
“My concern is definitely in terms of the acquisition to be acquiring more than we can actually develop and continue down that path,” he said.
“I know the argument is bringing in more people into Kelowna and making sure we have the park space, but for me, it’s a challenge to rationalize.”
Sieben was the only councillor to vote against the amendment initially and stood his ground on the issue, saying that it harms housing affordability.
“If we have a $790,000 house or a $797,000 house, there is an impact,” he said. “The impact is more on the quality of life than affordability.”
The rest of the council was in favour of the bill, stating that a “first-class city deserves first-class parks.”
“When you have the opportunity to sort through the rhetoric and explain that growth should pay for growth, they understand that concept,” said Basran.
Basran continued, saying that it’s not just builders shouldering the responsibility of the new costs, but instead the whole community.
“We run the whole gamut of people who are paying into various buckets to help build a great community. So this isn’t being shouldered by one particular industry. It’s shared across the whole community.”
Basran added that implementing a smaller DCC for smaller units doesn’t make sense, citing that people in smaller properties need parks the most.
“I don’t see how a square footage basis makes it fair. The people in smaller spaces need the space to actually recreate.”