Parks need CACs, not DCCs

The city is soon to be rolling out a new Development Cost Charge program aimed at helping fund the development of parks needed to accommodate the substantial future growth our city will face in decades to come.

Shockingly, Kelowna is one of only a handful of municipalities that do not collect money for the development of parks. We collect money for the acquisition of park space, but not for the future development of them.

This has led to an amassing of underdeveloped park space that few residents care to use and has led city staff to consistently warn that Kelowna is badly “underparked."

That’s why Kelowna city council is asking developers to chip in for future upgrades by way of a new Parks Development DCC. It sounds good, but there is a problem.

Parks development DCCs, by way of provincial law, are some of the most restricted funds collectable by cities. Unlike general taxes, they can only be spent on specific items. For example, park development DCCs can pay for sports fields and general landscaping, but not baseball diamonds, lighting infrastructure, skating parks, parking, or field houses.

In other words, the things residents actually go to parks for.

Alternatively, the city could use a different funding mechanism originally presented to council on April 1, Community Amenity Contributions. CACs are like DCCs but are free from much of the provincial regulation that plagues DCCs.

They are used in many other municipalities, but have gained little traction in Kelowna mostly due to developer fear of extortion at the hands of city planners. This is not a reasonable objection. If we are going to risk housing affordability to repair decades of neglect to our parks, let's raise money we can actually use and charge CACs, not DCCs.

Kelly Hutchinson

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