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LETTER: Bureaucratic spin hurts confidence in Langley DCC hike rationale

Questionable assumptions included in Development Cost Charge recommendations

Dear Editor,

Development Cost Charges (DCCs) are fees collected from new developments by the Township to offset infrastructure costs.

It’s understandable that DCC increases are necessary since the last adjustment in 2012, however, some assumptions used to justify a massive 75-90 per cent increase are questionable.

The Community Development Division (CDD) recommended that council adopt a new bylaw “to facilitate changes to the development cost charges to reflect current land acquisition values and construction costs.”

The CDD reports that, since 2012, “land values for urban property have increased from $930k/acre to $3.0 M/acre.”

It’s disputable that the developable land value of $3 million per acre should be used Township-wide. This is a very high benchmark premise which may apply to some parts of high density Willoughby zones, but would not reflect elsewhere in the Township. Brookswood/Fernridge values are assuredly much lower.

This statement in the report is contending that the huge DCC increases will not affect affordability. How could it not?

This from the report: “DCC increases are not expected to impact housing affordability: It is widely held that any increase in DCCs lowers the price developers are willing to pay for developable land and are not passed on to the home buyer. The market, meaning the forces of supply and demand, determine the price of a housing unit. DCCs may negatively impact the housing market only indirectly, if the price for land is pushed down low enough that it threatens project viability and reduces housing supply. The proposed 2019 DCCs are approximately 5% of the benchmark price of a single-family home in Langley. In 2012, DCCs were also 5% of the benchmark price of a single-family home.”

To put it politely, this sounds like government comforting math, or bureaucratic spin.

Such logic can question one’s confidence in the overall rationale of the DCC exercise.

People’s wages never went up 75-90 per cent since 2012.

It’s like saying consumers’ price of food is not affected by rising costs because the farmer will have to drop his price to reflect the market forces of supply and demand.

Everybody knows that all costs are passed on to the end user. In this case of increased DCCs, it’s peoples mortgages – that is, if they can qualify for one.

Roland Seguin, Fernridge

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