A new city charge to fund park creation will add more than $7,000 to the cost of a new Kelowna home, builders warn.
The proposed charge, to be considered Monday by city council, will push home ownership further out of reach for many people, critics say.
“City council needs to decide ultimately what is more important for our community — tackling housing affordability or developing new parks?” the local branch of the Canadian Home Builders Association says.
The Urban Development Institute and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are also against the introduction of a development cost charge — which are fees paid by builders — specifically to fund the construction of new parks.
“Housing prices in Kelowna are already high in comparison to other non-Lower Mainland communities and an added DCC will just put home ownership further out of reach for many young families,” the Chamber of Commerce says.
But the measure has support from some sports associations and neighbourhood groups, whose members say it will help turn currently undeveloped city-owned properties into usable parkland and playing fields.
“As a neighbourhood association waiting 30 years for Pandosy Waterfront Park (Cedar Park) to be funded for development, we support this change in funding strategy,” says Paul Clark of the KLO Neighborhood Association.
“Hundreds of Kelowna residents have shared their dismay with us regarding the large backlog of unbuilt parks,” says Al Janusas of PLANKelowna, a group which promotes more park development.
Currently, the city collects a development cost charge to raise money to buy land for new parks. That fee works out to about $7,300 per new residential unit.
The proposal from staff, subject to council’s approval, is to introduce another development cost charge to accelerate the construction of new parks. That fee would amount to $7,200 per residential unit, city officials say.
At that rate, the new charge could add “less than 1%” to the cost of an average new single-family home in Kelowna, city officials say, and 2% to the cost of a new condo.
Even with the new fee, park-related development cost charges in Kelowna would still be below those levied in comparable communities such as Chilliwack, Surrey, Langley, Richmond, and Nanaimo, city officials say.