Developers in Sooke get ‘bonus’ from council

Changes to amenity contributions and densities hope to promote growth

A recommendation to lower the financial contributions from developers to the District of Sooke passed, although staff had recommended a further analysis as to potential impacts on the proposed changes.

The recommendation is for the developers’ amenity contribution for the Town Centre/Unit designation be reduced to $1,000 per unit from $2,500 and the Outside Town Centre/Unit to $2,000 from $5,000. The density also changes to 50 units per hectare from 20 units in the Comprehensive and Community Residential designations.

District planner Gerard LeBlanc raised concerns of the disappearance of Sooke’s small town character, financial impacts for the district and the potential for sprawl with no new development downtown.

“We prefer the opportunity to measure twice and cut once,” said LeBlanc when stating the reasons for a financial and density impact analysis. “We would have a higher level of comfort and security if we take these actions.”

Staff noted that the increased base density figure would result in lower value amenity contributions being made to the district through rezoning for development.

Council instead defeated the motion to refer the staff recommendation and passed the Land Use and Environment Committee (LUEC)recommendation.

Councillor Herb Haldane in speaking to the LUEC recommendation stated that “nothing is being built… one development in town has ground to a halt (Mariner’s Village). The whole idea is to build in 23 per cent of the municipality. We have to try and entice people to come.”

Coun. Bev Berger stated that density bonusing was not really a “big thing” and there would be no huge change in density as this was controlled by zoning.

“If they go beyond then they pay density bonus or amenity contribution. I totally support reducing it,” she said.

Coun. Maja Tait wanted to see the financial impact and said she would not support the proposed changes, and Coun. Kerrie Reay was opposed as well.

Amenity contributions generally go towards affordable housing, parks, trails and community gardens.