Editor’s note: This is a letter that was written to Squamish mayor and council before the Dec. 4 decision not to approve the proposed OCP amendment on Lots 509 and 510. It was forwarded to The Chief for publication.
I want to express my concern with the above-noted amendment primarily because there will be a significant negative fiscal implication to the taxpayer.
The DOS’s own Development Services recommendation to council (section 5a) mentions the budget concerns of significant new infrastructure, the effect on the timing and magnitude of municipal infrastructure expenditures and the long-term financial plan, and the lack of a full cost accounting of the servicing requirements of this land which does not allow the full implications of this project to be evaluated.
I have been told by councillors at the Economic Development Standing Committee meetings on two occasions that residences cost the district more to service than the tax they generate. Based on that, it makes no sense to proceed with a development that will be more costly than a typical infill development to service. It will result in a net loss on cash flow and therefore either increased debt or further tax increases from the rest of the population to compensate.
At a time when we have no significant new industrial tax base contributors, and when any property improvements in the downtown core are going to get a five-year tax break courtesy of the Revitalization Tax Exemption bylaw, where is the money going to come from? Debt or tax increases to business and homeowners?
In addition, one of the reasons given for some councillors supporting this amendment was that it was not “fair” that a developer be restricted from development. The property owner bought the property knowing the restriction was in place. He would have paid a discounted price based on that restriction. In effect, amending this restriction increases the value of the land, which is good for the landowner/developer. It then places the burden on the taxpayer to fund the long-term maintenance of the infrastructure required.
A time will come when this development makes sense. That time, as validated by the earlier work of intelligent consultants, staff, and others is when the population has grown to 22,500. It is not now.
At this juncture in Squamish’s history, we need strong, fiscally responsible actions from our mayor and council. That is why I am hoping you will NOT pass this bylaw.