A proposed reduction of building permit fees for exceptionally large developments in Colwood has been shot down by council.
City staff came to council with a recommendation Monday (Jan. 9) that building fees for projects with a construction value of $50 million or more be reduced as they determined the current fee structure would result in the city charging more in fees than it costs to render the required services once projects crossed that value threshold.
Manager of building inspections and bylaw services Byron Grant told council that should the recommendation be approved, for example, a project valued at $100 million would bring in fees worth just under $520,000, compared to just over $800,000 under the current fee structure. He said the recommendation was being made in order to better align what the city charges developers with what building permit services actually cost the city.
But in the end, council narrowly voted to scrap the recommendation by a vote of 4-3 against. Couns. Kim Jordison, Cynthia Day, Ian Ward and Mayor Doug Kobayashi voted against the recommendation, while Couns. David Grove, Dean Jantzen and Misty Olsen supported it.
“I had mixed emotions on this one I can tell you that,” said Kobayashi during the meeting. “You don’t want to gouge the customer, right, you’re not supposed to make a profit on it, you are supposed to recover your costs … I’m just not comfortable with this. Why can’t we just say we will recover our costs and call it a day? I don’t know if we could do that, but I would feel a lot more comfortable with that.”
Kobayashi said he also agreed with Day’s point of contention with the proposal – that there seemed to be no real reason provided to council why the city needed to abandon its current practise of negotiating fees on a case-by-case basis for the rare situations where the city is dealing with a project valued so highly.
To those concerns, Grant said the software the city uses to calculate costs associated with developments has proven to be accurate and trustworthy, and has indicated the proposal would work out for the city.
“I’m very confident we won’t kick ourselves if the amendment is approved today,” said Grant.