Amenity fees approved

North Saanich can still vary what it can charge developers for housing growth

Amenity fees paid by developers of residential property within the District of North Saanich will go into a new reserve fund with the municipality and be used for future projects.

Councillors ratified the District’s new amenities policy on Monday, Nov. 4 after months of debate and wrangling over just what the municipality was going to charge people for developing property.

While the policy sets out guidelines on what to charge for building new homes, apartments and townhouses, the final amount paid by developers could still vary.

The use of the money collected is being earmarked for such areas as agriculture, affordable housing, environment, culture and heritage, parks and recreation, municipal services and other non-municipal amenities or facilities.

Wording in the policy approved by council does appear to leave a lot of leeway in what the District and its council can spend the money on — and how much money they can charge developers.

“This policy is a guideline and prescriptive,” reads the report on the policy’s intent.

“Council may ask for more or less than the target depending on the specifics of an application.”

Should a developer offer on-site amenities to even be faced with “extraordinary servicing costs” or changing economic conditions, the policy allows leeway.

Councillor Craig Mearns was pleased the policy is flexible in its application. In fact, all of council supported the policy.

“It has been a long time coming,” said Mayor Alice Finall. “Even if it’s the amount that it is, I hope that it’s a beginning.”

The District created its amenities policy in the wake on increased development demand. The municipality had considered creating local development cost charges, but instead went with the amenities plan.