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A day after City Council slapped a new $7,180 fee on construction of each new home in Kelowna, the Chamber of Commerce slapped back.
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Chamber President Nikki Csek said the new fee is counter-productive at a time when housing affordability is emerging as a big issue.
The purpose of the new fee is to pay for development of park space.
It will take effect in January of next year and are in addition to the already existing development charges of $7,346 per home.
"Everyone values our parks, but we also have to live within our means," said Csek.
The chamber invited the news media to hear their concerns.
"This is a significant increase," said Csek. "It's at a time when the stated objective is to focus on housing attainability and we just don't think that this added cost will help with affordability."
The executive director of the Chamber, Dan Rogers, said it will most definitely affect new home buyers decision making. "If you're buying a new home and I went to you and said, 'by the way, you're paying an additional $7,000,' what would you say?"
On a $700,000 home, the increase from the new fees amounts to about 1%, but Ray Wynsouw, who is a developer and a chamber director sees it differently. "Yes, it's a 1% increase on a $700,000 home," he acknowledges, "but if you look what the current DCC's are, which is approximately $7,000, now we're adding another $7,000. It's a hundred percent increase."
In voting for the new fees, Kelowna City Councillor Luke Stack said the funds are needed to develop park land that's set aside. "There was strong pushback from developers when a Parks Development DCC was proposed in 2011," said Stack, "they said wait until market conditions improve, but developers remain opposed to it, so when is a good time?”
Cassidy deVeer, the President of the local Canadian Home Builders Association said now is not the time, because it comes at a time when housing affordability has already taken a hit. "Home ownership is under threat," said deVeer. "And Canadians, especially young Canadians, are feeling it."
The Chamber suggests, among other things, that the amount of money being spent to acquire and build out parks be reduced in favour of better utilizing existing green space.