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Langley City remains concerned about boost in school site charges
Langley City council still isn’t convinced that the Langley School District needs to more than double its school site acquisition charge.
On Monday evening, Urban Systems Limited went over the Eligible School Site Proposal at the request of city staff — a report that did little to sway Councillor Dave Hall.
The retired teacher and former chair of the Langley Board of Education expressed concern over the rising charge, from $354 to $734 for a single-family dwelling, and from $283 to $590 per unit for townhouses and condo. They will be charged on all new development. Hall says the charges will be counterproductive.
“It’s not going to increase the number of students in City schools. It’s going to do the opposite,” he said.
“People are going to go elsewhere.”
Hall posed the question of whether the district could simply access the funds that they had available in the past with the sales of sites deemed to be unnecessary.
“One would logically expect that you had the opportunity to either reserve that or hand a portion over to the ministry,” he said matter-of-factly.
Urban Systems Limited’s senior engineer Fraser Smith was hired earlier this year by the school district to look into how much Langley charges the development community.
Hall also posed the question of whether the vacant school sites in the school district could be sold to provide the needed money, as an alternative to the increase in fees.
“You’ve got four or five different sites sitting there and you’re saying you need new sites? I’d like to know what the estimated dollar value would be on what you’re sitting on in the way of capital assets, rather than gouge the city with this 100 per cent charge.”
Smith explained that while the district is currently in the process of getting appraisals on the vacant sites, if disposed of, the same division of proceeds between the province and school district would take place.
Councillor Gayle Martin noted it’s fine for the Township to be doing all the developing, but they have to be aware there is a cost in doing so.
“Thirty-nine students are going to move to the City in the next 10 years — that’s three students a year. So if it’s shifted to the Township, you know what? That’s what you get for growing.”
Councillor Teri James asked whether the district would consider a change in regulation to adapt a more reasonable formula which accounts for a percentage differential on new enrolment net growth in the City and the Township in the next 10 years.
“If you’ll consider seriously looking into it, I know myself and everyone sitting at this table and this community would greatly appreciate it. For me, that’s the bottom line,” she said.
The existing fees were implemented by School District 35 in 2001. The City of Langley has collected $451,014.07 on behalf of the district, as of May 29, 2013.