Ground work on a new residential area in west Sylvan Lake is currently underway. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Developers raise concerns about Sylvan Lake levies

Sylvan Lake council decides to take another look at proposed deveopment levies

Sharp increases in the levies paid by developers have been put on hold in Sylvan Lake.

Developers went before town council on Monday to express their concerns about the proposed increases to levies, which are charged to developers to cover the cost of roads, sewers and water lines in new neighbourhoods.

Also of concern to the development community was what they considered inadequate consultation before the new levies were proposed by staff.

Council agreed to take a second look at the charges. Councillors voted to meet with developers to discuss their concerns and review the math used to set the levies.

Developer Steve Bontje was pleased council was willing to undertake more consultation before voting on new levies.

“Clearly, there was some question from the development community about what had been included,” said Bontje, who is chairman of the Red Deer chapter of the Urban Development Institute, which represents developers.

“The Municipal Government Act states that the proper consultation should occur and I think it was recognized that, in this case, (the issue) hadn’t had proper discussion yet.

“Hopefully, moving forward we’ll have a chance to sit down with administration and go through their calculations and have a better understanding of the steps they took to get there.”

No date for the meeting has been set but it is expected to happen soon, he said.

Under the proposed bylaw, levies would increase, on average, 28 per cent. The new rates take into account increasing construction costs, a decrease in developed land over the next 25 years, as well as a decrease in the town’s reserve funds, said the town.

Developers could expect to pay $51,201 to $153,539 per hectare this year, on average, compared with $41,402 to $107,731 last year.

Bontje said the proposed increases would affect housing affordability in the town.

“The market is facing challenging times still and the consumers are going to go looking where they feel is the best value,”

“There’s no doubt that increases in the costs of housing in any municipality might make consumers think twice.”

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