Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Is this how the city should be spending our money??

June 15, 2010

TO: Mayor & Council

Re: Proposed Amendment to Five year Financial Plan (2010 to 2014) Bylaw No. 3683, 2010

The Five Yr. Financial Plan was approved on March 22, 2010. At that time development at Wildstone was already stalled. The need for the city to pay to extend services through Wildstone to a connection with Shadow Mountain must have already been known before this document was approved. Why is this only being addressed now? Why did the City give subdivision approval to Shadow Mountain, and allow the developer to sell the lots, enabling owners to build before services are hooked up? How are the new owners going to respond if they have constructed houses they cannot occupy? Could the City face legal action from these new owners?

The City has really no option but to pay the $1.1M (more or less) for a costly extension of services to make good on its premature subdivision approval. There is already a record of the City having to rescue homeowners from premature subdivision and occupancy approvals. This particular development is a speculative high-end recreation project. Should the City financially support this form of development while little is done to address the more urgent need for affordable housing? Housing that would meet the needs of full-time residents. It’s the full time residents that work in, and support our local economy.

We understand that to pay for this extension, $633,000 will be taken from DCC (development cost charge) Reserve Funds, $346,000 will be taken from Water and Sewer Fund Accumulated Surplus, and an additional $121,000 will be contributed by the City as a “developer assist”. It is claimed that the depletion of reserve funds “will be recovered in its entirety through connection fees when development of the Havaday (Wildstone) lands proceeds.”

With DCC’s at only $2,032 per lot, and with residential development being the lowest of the city’s six property tax categories, we could be waiting for a long time to see any significant recovery of the costs of this project. When we consider that the City also contributes an 11% (taxpayer funded) assist of $121,000, it begs the question - does development really pay for itself?

Over the long term, it’s the citizens that pay for leapfrog development and poor planning.

Once again, the City’s actions have placed the taxpayers between a rock and a hard place. By not following due process during the initial stages of development of Shadow Mountain, taxpayers are faced with no alternative but to pay for construction that should have been paid for by a developer. This situation makes a total mockery of this public comment process. How can Council in good conscience remain objective, when as a result of premature approvals, the decision has already been made?

Yours truly,

Sharon Cross, President