Council considering nearly 30 per cent increase in developer fees
The City of Airdrie is considering increasing off-site levies and recreation contributions for new developments by about 27 per cent over current levels.
Should the bylaw be approved, the levies and contributions - charges applied to new developments to fund necessary services such as water sewer and roads - are currently set at $62,000 per acre but would increase to $78,800 per acre.
Because the subject is a controversial one, council directed staff to arrange a public input session at the next meeting, Nov. 5.
“It will be an opportunity for the development community to get their message across to council,” said Tracy Corbett, manager of planning and engineering. “Council needs to make a decision. When they are approving a bylaw, council needs assurance that we have done our homework… that (the bylaw) is fair.”
The City’s position, spelled out in the Airdrie City Plan, is that growth must pay for itself. The City last reviewed off-site levies in 2010.
In February, the City hired BSEI Municipal Consulting Engineers to complete a review and report on off-site bylaws. The company’s analysis considered servicing requirements to support populations of 60,000 and 80,000 and identified the projects that would be needed.
City staff consulted with members of the development community and Corbett said both administration and the mayor have received feedback during discussions.
Concerns outlined by developers include fair allocation of costs, erosion of Airdrie’s competitive advantage, the potential impact of proposed Calgary water/wastewater acreage assessments, the issue of a proposed public facilities contribution and implementation timing.
The development community also asked for an improved off-site levy process.
Corbett said when compared to the City of Calgary’s recently adopted levies and development charges, which are in the range of $129,000 per acre, the cost of building in Airdrie is affordable.
“We try to keep the Airdrie advantage,” said Corbett, adding that when comparing the cost of building a similar house in Calgary or Airdrie, the latter is much more affordable for homebuyers.
“A comparable house in Calgary would cost $20,000 to $30,000 more,” she said.
Corbett said any increase in fees may result in increased costs for homebuyers.
“A lot of the cost, whether it is offsite or onsite… the homeowner bears the cost,” she said, adding the price per unit would likely be much higher should the City front all of the costs associated with developing new communities.
“If we didn’t have an off-site provision… the cost of development would be a lot higher and it wouldn’t be equitable across all the communities.”
Council will discuss the bylaw at its Nov. 5 meeting, to take place at City Hall at 7 p.m.