Proposed rezoning violates legislation

Dear Editor,

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs:

“Density Bonusing is an arrangement under which a local government allows a developer to exceed maximum density levels in a zoning bylaw, in exchange for the provision of low-cost housing units to a non-profit agency or for the provision of a specific public amenity that benefits the community.”

The Development Finance Choices Guide published 2000.10.15 goes on to state;

“Municipalities should be careful to avoid the two-step practice of;

•Down zoning areas and:

•Structuring bylaws to offer bonus densities which are equivalent to the original densities.

This way of securing amenities from developers would violate the intent of the legislation.”

However the proposed zoning bylaw does exactly this! Under the existing zoning bylaws the minimum lot size for a single family dwelling (R1) is 550m. Under the proposed bylaws currently under review the minimum lot size has been increased to 1000m with a provision that the minimum building lot size may be decreased to 500m (the equivalent to the original density) based on a density bonusing amenity of $4000 per lot…

It gets worse. And I quote from the guide;

”Pre-zoning a site for bonus density can affect the appraised value of the site which is, in general, based on the site’s highest and best use. A developer who purchases a pre-zoned bonus density site would, in all likelihood, pay a price that reflected the highest and best use assessment. The developer would then also be required to pay the municipality for the bonus density in the form of low-cost housing units and/or public amenities. In essence, developers who purchased and developed a pre-zoned density bonus site would be required to pay twice for the density bonus.”

Not only is the rezoning of R1 in violation of the legislation it is also completely contrary to the propagation of affordable housing. Affordable housing usually means smaller homes on smaller lots, but under the proposed zoning the smaller lots could have to pay an extra $8000. Again this poorly drafted proposed zoning bylaw would entrench barriers to development that will only serve to drive the cost of housing in Golden even higher.

~Keith W. Hern

Golden, BC