Mayor calls for review of DCC missteps

'This needs to see the light of day': Van Laerhoven

Almost $400,000 was never collected for agricultural road DCCs in the District of Kent, dating from 2005 to 2008. A section in the now-defunct bylaw 1306 stated that development cost charges be paid for new barns, shops and other farming buildings, similar to regular construction road DCCs. However, there was backlash from the agricultural community about the fees and subsequently none were ever collected, according to documents received through a Freedom of Information request by local developer Allan Bott. Bott addressed Kent council on Oct. 15 with his findings, and posed several pointed questions at council and staff. “Is it possible that the council that passed Bylaw 1306 in 2004 had not even read or failed to understand that document? Even I would not suggest such incompetence,” he said. “But is it possible?” What followed after the passing of Bylaw 1306 was a series of “half steps and missteps” to repeal and replace the bylaw without section F, which outlined the agricultural road DCC fees. That finally happened in 2009, just as current Mayor John Van Laerhoven was learning the ropes as a new councillor. Bott has been working with the District of Kent to unravel what happened from 2004-2008, so his presentation wasn’t a shock to anyone, Van Laerhoven said. Still, he expressed concern for what processes were ignored. He asked council to carefully consider the issue, and plans to have it on the agenda for the Monday, Oct. 28 council meeting (7:30 p.m.). “I, too, am somewhat perplexed by what occurred,” Van Laerhoven said. “Was there a policy shift in place? I will be asking council to review this carefully.” He would like to see an independent review of the situation, possibly by the provincial ombudsman. “This needs to see the light of day,” Van Laerhoven told the Observer. “This is all public information and I think it’s good. It needs to be talked about.” Development cost charges are to be collected at time of building, and help cover costs of infrastructure changes, such as road widening.