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Debate about to begin on development charges that pay for community facilities

August 13th, 2012 · 42 Comments

There have been rumblings about making changes to Vancouver’s unique system of negotiating with developers on the money they will hand over, per project, to cover some of the costs of catering to the new residents that will be housed in their projects.

That money isn’t just used for the obvious things like community centres or sewers, however, which those residents will use, but also theatres and galleries and heritage preservation and affordable-housing projects and much more.

But so far, we’ve heard about it mostly as some kind of tiff between developers and the city, rather than what’s really at stake, which is the kind of system that helps pay for community benefits but also doesn’t leave developers guessing in the dark about how many thousands or millions they’re going to have to contribute.

My today story sketches out the beginning of the debate that is going to happen over reforming that system. For those wondering where I got my numbers from, they come from this recent report on the 2011 calculation of community amenity contributions, which were calculated as $180 million, along with the 2011 total of development cost levies, which was calculated to be $55 million.

(So weird, I have to add in passing, that when you google these reports, you get a link that then leads you to the city’s web page, where you’re told “Oh no, that page doesn’t exist any more.” You then have to do a search within the city’s website to find the same report. Was there no way to ensure the old google link went to what turns out to be the same report?)

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