Update: Regional District of Nanaimo looks to increase development costs

NANAIMO – The Regional District of Nanaimo is proposing to increase development cost charges by about 30 percent.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is proposing to increase development cost charges by about 30 percent in order to pay for future projects at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre.

The charges are collected when a property receives services and they assist in recovering costs to expand infrastructure to accommodate growth, said Sean De Pol, regional district wastewater services manager.

De Pol said three projects fall under the program. A treatment plan upgrade and expansion is planned for 2017-19 and a centrifuge-polymer system to remove solids from wastewater will be connected with that. The upgrade has an estimated price tag of $79 million, while the centrifuge is estimated to cost $1.4 million.

A sewer force main replacement at Departure Bay, estimated to take place between 2026-28, is another project with an estimated cost of $24 million.

De Pol said the last time development cost charges were reviewed was in 2009.

“The rate in 2009 was $2,272. We’re now proposing, eight years later, a new rate of $2,951 (per connection) … From over those eight years it’s gone up 30 per cent, which in comparison to our general taxation for operating the plant, it’s closer to 40 per cent, that we’ve seen in that same period of time,” said De Pol.

Public consultation for the proposal is expected between January and February and it is anticipated to be forwarded to the province for approval in March. The bylaw is scheduled to be adopted and implemented in May.

The regional district learned last Friday that it will receive a $1 million federal gas tax grant for the centrifuge system, said De Pol.

“Under the centrifuge, half of it is DCCs, so it will reduce it by around $400,000, which will drop the DCC rate by about one-per cent,” said De Pol.

De Pol and the regional district made a presentation to the City of Nanaimo during an open meeting Monday. Coun. Jerry Hong, who is also a regional district director, said the city will have to make changes.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” said Hong. “We’re going to have to adjust ours like the RDN. They just beat us to it. I think that was what I was disappointed about when they did the presentation, that we should’ve been first because it does affect our city.”

Hong said the issue of development cost charges will go before the city’s finance committee for discussion first and estimates something before the end of December.

“It’s going to be coming along with … budget talks this year. [It will be] before this year is up because it’s in the budget talks. It is part of what we’re asking for,” said Hong.