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Home Buying, Market Intelligence, Real Estate News | April 26, 2023

Metro Vancouver initiates study on the costs of neighborhood densification as BC government plans to enforce provincial zoning codes to intensify single-family home communities

Study Details

The study, led by Eric Aderneck, will investigate the costs of neighborhood densification by analyzing infrastructure and services for three housing types: development in existing urban areas, new suburban apartments, and reconstruction of existing quarters.

Infrastructure and Services

As neighborhoods become denser, the demand for services like sewer and road maintenance increases, raising questions about cost distribution and feasibility.

Analysis Scope

Aderneck’s study will examine the capital and operating costs of infrastructure/services, comparing different housing models’ impacts on property taxes and utilities.

Urban Planning Perspective

Urban planner Andy Yan believes the study will offer essential data on development fees and community facilities, crucial for adapting to increased density and addressing infrastructure needs.

Municipal Experiences

Cities with existing “soft density” plans shared their experiences during the recent Union of BC Municipalities meeting.

Comparisons and Recommendations

The study doesn’t compare service costs by community but suggests each town hall assess the impact of state regulations on their finances and recommends no Development Cost Charges (DCC) and Community Charges (CAC).

Cost Estimates

Kelowna’s infill housing program website provides cost estimates, with each new unit for DCC costing between $20,000 and $50,000, in addition to other infrastructure upgrades.

A recent report from the City of Saskatoon stated that infill development is cost-effective when existing infrastructure has unused capacity and can result in improved transit utilization. However, it warns that developers may find fewer obstacles when developing new tracts of land.

In 2016, an Australian study reported by ABC News found that the cost to the government for providing greenfield infrastructure, including roads, water, communications, electricity, health, education, and emergency services, was $150,390 compared to $55,830 for infill sites.

Metro Vancouver has an urban containment boundary that restricts greenfield development unless a clear majority of board members approves changes. The study does not compare service costs and revenues by community within the region. Instead, each town hall should be responsible for determining the impact of state regulations on their costs and revenues. The study will also recommend no Development Cost Charges (DCC) and Community Charges (CAC).

The City of Kelowna’s infill housing program website provides cost estimates for its city. Each new unit for DCC can cost between $20,000 and $50,000, and new homes must also pay for upgrades to sewer and water lines, sidewalks, and street lighting.

Originally written by Victoria Fetcher for Canada Today.


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