Nanaimo’s new city council is looking to take leadership on Vancouver Island on certain files.
Councillors have begun brainstorming resolutions that they intend to bring to the next Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference.
Councillors held their first public discussion of potential AVICC resolutions at a council meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
Coun. Tyler Brown raised two resolutions – one to expand the list of projects eligible for development cost charges funding, and one calling for the province to consider allowing for variable property taxation depending on density.
On the DCC resolution, Brown pointed to last winter, when the provincial government advised that the City of Nanaimo was not allowed to use development charges for seven parks projects. Brown posited that local governments should be able to use DCCs for fire stations, rec centres and other parks and cultural facilities.
“I think with a new provincial government we have an opportunity to consider some changes to the legislation,” he said. “And just because these powers would be granted does not necessarily mean municipalities have to implement new DCCs. It just gives you options.”
He mentioned that parts of Hammond Bay are not adequately serviced by Nanaimo Fire Rescue and said if DCCs in that area over the years could have gone toward a fire hall, it might have been built by now.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong suggested she would be in support of that sort of resolution.
“It’s a very valid point that these can be used to help us build much-needed infrastructure in our community,” she said.
The other resolution Brown brought up is meant to provide comparatively lower property taxes for landowners responsible for greater density. The resolution might ask for the provincial government just to conduct analysis around the concept, he said.
“There could be properties in our downtown core, for example, that have a high assessment value similar to those in more suburban areas, yet their impact on city services is not the same,” Brown said. “We do know that more dense development has a lesser taxation burden.”
Coun. Don Bonner said he would support the resolution.
“I think this is a key instrument in how we do our asset management going forward,” Bonner said. “This allows cities to be more flexible in how they raise their funds and how various people who use more or less of the facilities or infrastructure can pay more or less for it.”
Councillors brought up two other potential resolutions, both related to marijuana. Bonner said he’s had conversation about a resolution related to cannabis production on ALR land and Coun. Zeni Maartman is interested in a resolution related to business licensing.
“I really don’t want to just see Shoppers Drug Marts selling online, I want mom and pop shops being able to be successful in our local municipalities,” she said.
City clerk Sheila Gurrie said staff will work with councillors about the wording of resolutions, which must be submitted by Feb. 7. The 2019 AVICC conference will be in Powell River in mid April. The Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities is one of five area associations of local governments within the Union of British Columbia Municipalities umbrella.