A new way of paying for parks, roads, and libraries will be up for debate at next Monday’s Langley Township council meeting.
Councillor Michelle Sparrow is putting forward a plan to add community amenity contributions (CACs) to the costs developers pay when building new homes.
“Our growth is not paying for growth,” Sparrow said.
CACs are a fairly common practice, with both Vancouver and Surrey using them to fund local projects.
They are a complement to development cost charges. All developers pay DCCs when they build a new subdivision of homes or townhouses, and are intended to pay for roads, sewer lines, and other needed infrastructure in growing areas.
But Sparrow believes DCCs are not enough. For example, she pointed out that DCCs are calculated to allow the Township to buy land for parks, but not for the cost of building the park.
The Yorkson Community Park, a vast area in northern Willoughby, is expected to be built in stages.
“Realistically, it would be a decade away from completion,” said Sparrow.
She came across the idea of CACs through a meeting between the Township and Surrey City councils last year.
“It was such a different way of them approaching community planning,” she said.
Resources needed for a neighbourhood, such as a new park or a library, are determined, and then new developers in that area pay a share towards that cost on each unit built.
Sparrow is asking that the Township consider parks, recreation facilities, police, firefighting, libraries, and road infrastructure.
She estimates it would cost about $1,000 to $2,000 per unit, which given the local cost of housing is not excessive, Sparrow said.
In Langley, parks are certainly a candidate for using CACs, but there are also other concerns in the fast-growing areas of the community.
“I’d like to see us look at our road network,” Sparrow said.
She pointed to a recent report from Langley Township council, which totalled up the costs of brining up the two-lane sections of Willoughby’s 208th Street to four-lane status. It was found to be cost-prohibitive to build up all the areas, so developers will continue to build up most sections of the road piecemeal.
If there had been a CAC in place years ago, money could have been put aside for some of that cost, Sparrow siad.
She isn’t sure if the rest of the council will approve of the idea of CACs.
She’s worried some members of the council will receive pressure from the development community.
Sparrow’s motion calls for a report from staff. She’s hoping that it will be approved so the Township can at least give the idea serious consideration.
She noted that it doesn’t seem to have hurt growth in Surrey.