Development services at the City of West Kelowna have finally been updated.
The city hasn’t made changes or updated to the development services bylaw or fees since incorporation in 2007, which means the fees are lagging behind other cities in the area and even the regional district.
West Kelowna’s planning manager Brent Magnan said staff had wanted to bring the issue to council in 2019 but due to COVID-19, they decided to put it on the back burner.
“So we held off until there was a more appropriate time and given where we are in the restart plan, we’re probably there now,” he said.
Magnan added that part of the reason they want the bylaw and fees amended is that there are some development projects that are not “revenue neutral”.
“There are some applications that are compensated by others, but planning is a very good example of this.
“We don’t really fully recover the fees in planning,” he said.
Staff looked at other municipalities throughout the province to find the right number in terms of the fee increase.
“We’re looking at increases to fees not necessarily just to increase fees but (we’re doing this) one, for regional consistency and also, to fill some gaps where we don’t have fees but it’s taking staff a considerable amount of time out of our days to manage certain types of applications or processes where we have no cost recovery whatsoever.”
Magnan added that there are also some applications and applicants who consistently require additional staff time outside of the typical limits of the application process, pointing once again to the resource burden staff experience and how the department wants to recoup costs.
Magnan presented some of the proposed amendments to the service fee bylaw, including a revised fee structure as well as a clause that will include new permit fees for existing services that currently have no fees, among others.
He also proposed an annual increase of two per cent for development services fees, which will regularly go to council for consideration.
Coun. Jayson Zilkie was the first to show his support.
“I’ve been very bullish on increasing the fees. I think we’ve been really low for a long time,” he said.
“So it’s great to see where it is today and I pretty well support everything you’ve done here today.”
Council approved the proposal, provided that major reviews on the fees and the bylaw be done every five years instead of every 20 years.