The president of WestShore Developers Association says 2019 has been a booming year for land development on the West Shore.
Ron Coutre watches intently as construction workers put final touches on roofs of new townhouses at Southpoint Ridge, one of his current property developments along the south slope of Skirt Mountain in Langford.
“We’ve seen success on the West Shore over the past year because Langford has embraced responsible development,” Coutre said. “But there’s a cost to doing that. There needs to be amenities for the city in each development that is being proposed.”
Coutre refers to the fact that the City of Langford requires a minimum of 40 per cent open green space, according to its Official Community Plan (OCP).
”No developer that’s coming to Langford should be surprised by the fact that there is a standard to meet. While some contributions come in the form of cash, others are given in park land dedication.”
Coutre says that Langford has been able to maintain a low residential property tax, currently at 1.2 per cent, due to the funds generated by new developments.
In a typical year, the West Shore Developers Association pays more than $3.5 million in development cost charges (DCC).
Development cost charges can be imposed for the purpose of providing funds to assist the City to pay the price of providing, constructing, or expanding sewage, water, drainage and highway facilities and providing or improving park land to serve the development.
Currently, the West Shore Developers Association has close to 35 members.
In 2019, they collectively donated $14,500 to local causes, including two $500 bursaries for high school students interested in construction, a $1,500 donation for the Sarah Beckett Memorial Run, and a new van for both the Langford Legion and Goldstream Food Bank.
The association regularly meets with politicians to discuss development issues or concerns.
Coutre says he appreciates the fact that council and mayor usually includes them in proposed bylaw changes to provide input.
Looking towards 2020, Coutre believes that affordable housing is the biggest issue.
“Supply equals demand and the demand is there, so now we just need to catch up or the costs skyrocket,” Coutre says. “If anything, we are not producing enough new neighborhoods fast enough.”