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Delta taxpayers on hook for $345,000 for Southlands application
The total cost to Delta taxpayers to process the Southlands application is $345,000, according to a report to Delta Council on Monday.
The largest cost, $131,348, was spent on independent consultant reports who conducted studies for Delta.
A further $98,844 was spent on the marathon, five-day public hearings in late October 2013, while $25,580 was spent on public information meetings. Lawyers ate up $58,000 in fees for the phased development agreement.
Coun. Sylvia Bishop, the sole member of council to vote against the application, suggested fees should be higher for larger for future applications like the Southlands.
“For the municipality, for citizens, to bear $345,000 for an application when the applicant has paid $43,381, seems to be a little lopsided,” she said.
Bishop said she welcomes smaller applications to regenerate and renew Delta’s neighbourhoods, and that the larger fee should only apply to big projects.
Chief administrative officer George Harvie said each large project has been handled differently based on council’s feedback, and added Tsawwassen Springs paid over $100,000 for staffing costs related to processing the application.
Normally they would have cost-shared the project with Century Group but for reasons of transparency and independence the work was paid for by Delta.
“We felt it was extremely important based on the history of this file and the application that we be as independent as possible,” he said.
Harvie also warned that under a cost-sharing agreement with a developer, the other party would have the right to see any studies.
“We want to be in a position where we can say to council the reports are independent, they’re based upon science, and they have not had the influence of the applicant,” he said, adding that even if the application had failed the reports would have served as valuable information for future prospects on the site.
Harvie also noted that only $3,981 was paid in staff overtime for the marathon public hearings and that most employees did not receive any overtime.
Members of council agreed it was important to keep the process as transparent and independent as possible, given the polarizing issue in the community.
“You look at the costs and what comes to mind is the price of democracy,” said Coun. Ian Paton.
At the direction of council, staff will come back with a report exploring the possibility of a cost-sharing agreement with larger applications.