Sylvan Lake agrees to development levy changes

Developers had been concerned that proposed levies could affect housing affordability

Sylvan Lake developers are pleased the town has reduced some levies charged to pay for new roads, sewers and water lines.

Under a proposed bylaw, levies would have increased, on average, 28 per cent.

The size of the levy hike alarmed developers, who said they would affect housing affordability in the town. Developers contended some future construction costs included in the levies should not be attached to new developments.

A meeting was held last month between town officials and developers, who were given time to review the numbers.

Sylvan Lake Developers Association chairman Doug McGill the town listened to their concerns and some levies have been adjusted.

McGill, who owns Blackstone Developments, said a proposed $98,000 per hectare on property he is developing on the west side of Sylvan Lake is dropping by about $10,000.

A proposed $155,000-per-hectare levy on a property to the south of his has been reduced to $111,000 per hectare.

McGill praised the town’s response to the development community’s concerns.

“The town was quite good about it,” he said, adding developers ideally would have liked more time for a thorough review.

The town made the commitment to ensure that happens next year.

“Basically, we decided (since) they do this every year so next year we’ll get this information ahead of time and we’ll meet with the town when we have time to do a thorough review.”

As well, town council has asked staff to form a developer advisory committee.

“It was a good spirit of co-operation on both sides,” he said.

The town set its development levies taking into account increasing construction costs, an expected decrease in developed land over the next 25 years, as well as a decrease in the town’s reserve funds.

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