Sylvan Lake developers seek lower levies

Sylvan Lake developers intend to give town their levy suggestions on Friday

Sylvan Lake developers are making their case to the town on why they feel proposed development levies are too high.

The Sylvan Lake Developers Association met with town officials on June 23 to discuss the issue. Given the complicated formulas and assumptions behind development levy rates, the developers were given another week to do more detailed number crunching.

Levies are charged to developers to cover the cost of roads, sewers and water lines in new neighbourhoods.

Developers association chairman Doug McGill said town officials have been open to listening to developers’ concerns and they expect to submit their numbers on Friday.

Under a 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.

McGill, who owns Blackstone Developments, said the new levy rates would cost him an additional $10,560 per acre ($26,083 per hectare), a 36 per cent increase.

Developers went before council earlier this month to argue that the proposed increases would affect housing affordability in the town and stymie growth.

McGill said among the issues for developers is what future upgrading work should be cost-shared through future developments. Developers feel some of the infrastructure upgrading and maintenance costs the town intends to use levies for should not be assigned to new developments since the upgrades benefit the whole town.

Also at issue are the town’s long-term growth assumptions, which affects the amount of land the town expects to be developed. If less land is expected to be developed, the levies per hectare increase.

Town officials acknowledged the developers’ arguments and appeared open to compromise, he said. First reading to the development levy bylaw was given on Monday and it is expected to come back for second reading on July 10.

Developers hope that lower levies are before council at that point.

“(Town administration) seem to be kind of open to working with us, but the whole thing is pretty darn rushed,” he said.

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