New city development fees bylaw coming

Revelstoke city council wants to introduce a whole bunch of new fees and jack up the price tag on existing ones, and they say the changes are about giving the taxpayer a break.

At their Feb. 22 meeting, council took the next step towards creating a bylaw that seeks to recoup costs from developers and others who use planning department services such as rezoning applications, subdivision applications, building inspections, fire inspections and a variety of other permits. A staff report estimates the changes will bring in an extra $200,000 in revenue during an average year.

The idea behind the bylaw is that these services were previously supported in part by general taxation. The new system seeks a user-pay model.

The changes do largely pertain to development-community activities, or to those looking to renovate a home, for example. However, some of the changes affect a broader segment of the public.

Council first discussed a consultant’s report on a cost-recovery model for the fees at their Dec. 1, 2010 meeting. Since then, city staff have consulted with various stakeholders for input on the initial proposal. A number of tweaks have been made to the plan.

Special event permits are now free. The new plan was to charge $600. A staff report prepared by planning director John Guenther said the proposed new fee was dropped to $250 so as to not penalize not-for-profit event organizers.

Another change in the yet-to-be drafted bylaw will peg the rates to the consumer price index.

In a unanimous vote, council directed staff to draft the plan into a bylaw. During council discussion, both Mayor David Raven and Coun. Chris Johnston said the change amounted to a shift in philosophy from a taxpayer-subsidized model to a user-pay model. “If I apply for a subdivision then I am the one that should be paying for it,” said Johnston.

The report contains over 80 items, many of them technical and development-related. The following list is only a few of them, focusing on some eyebrow-raisers and things that will affect those outside of the development community:

– Heritage alteration permit, new item, $300

– Soil disturbance and removal permit, new item, $300

– Tree cutting and removal, new item, $140

– Commercial cooking equipment ducting permit, new item, $560

– Vending and busking on sidewalk permit, was $50/year for vendor and $25/month for busker, now $260 for both

– Outdoor special (commercial) event permit, new item, $250

– Fire safety plan review, new item, $480

– Fuel/oil/propane tank removal, new item, $200