The agenda for the Feb. 13 Rossland Council meeting, sent out on Feb. 7 includes a Request for Council Decision to repeal the Development Cost Charge (DCC) bylaw and the Sewer Capacity Charge bylaw. A further Request for Council Decision is for a Service Connection Capacity Charge to replace DCCs.
DCCs are monies that municipalities collect from land developers to offset the increase in the demand for sewer, water, drainage, parks and roads as a direct result of growth and development.
The proposed connection charges provide a very low cost “entry fee” for developers to Rossland’s infrastructure within the capacity of the existing system.
The recommendation goes on to say that “a development agreement would be necessary to structure a charge based on the cost of the additional capacity required once the capacity limit is reached.” This statement is fine but the question is “will it ever be implemented?”
The mayor, CAO and some councillors have made it clear in the past, by their words and inaction on DCCs, that they are opposed to charging development for the cost of infrastructure capacity upgrades. There is no doubt in my mind that this latest proposal from the CAO will lead to “death by a thousand cuts”. (Lots of small bad things happening (for taxpayers), none of which are fatal in themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise.)
I’m sure that in the future, for example, if this proposal is adopted, whenever a section of sewer or water pipe has to be replaced for maintenance reasons, the size of the pipe will be increased to meet the needs of development but at taxpayers’ expense.
As long as the long-term development plans for Rossland include for more than 2400 additional housing units, the question of who pays for the required infrastructure capacity will remain an issue.
It is completely unrealistic and naive to have an Official Community Plan (OCP) to triple the size of the city and expect to do this without significant capital costs.
Previous engineering studies in 2003 estimated the capital cost of capacity upgrades to meet the needs of the proposed 2000 units at Red Mountain at about $15 million (2003) dollars.
The 2007 Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) includes about $21.9 million (2007) dollars, attributable to Rossland’s future growth (10,000 population by 2026 and ultimately over 17,000). With these latest proposals from the CAO, who is going to pay?
It’s time to acknowledge that the projected level of growth in the OCP is simply unrealistic and unaffordable. The time to have realistic discussions about Rossland’s future growth is now, since predictions of Rossland’s future population are required for the Regional District Stage 2 Liquid Waste Management Plan.
Rossland Council should not be “railroaded” again by the CAO and should reject his Request for a Council Decision on Development Cost Charges and connection fees until realistic and affordable growth levels for Rossland are defined.