School site acquisition charge adjustment supported by Gabriola LTC

·2 min read

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee unanimously passed a motion to reduce the collection of a school site acquisition charge on new subdivisions from a minimum of four units to two dwelling units at their July 28 meeting.

The request came from the Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools back in November 2021. School districts have authority to collect a school site acquisition charge (SSAC) on new subdivisions of four or more self-contained dwelling units but require local government approval to reduce below that threshold. All other electoral areas in the Regional District of Nanaimo that fall within the NLPS boundaries, the City of Nanaimo and the District of Lantzville approved the school district’s request earlier this year and have passed bylaws to that effect. Now that the Gabriola LTC has supported SSAC collection on two or more dwellings, the RDN’s bylaw will need to be amended as the RDN will be responsible for collecting the fees at the time of building permit issuance.

Rates to be paid by developers are calculated based on residential density. For low density, defined as less than 21 units per hectare, the maximum rate per unit is $1,000.

Fees collected from SSACs are used to purchase land for new school sites. The school district anticipates that at least two new school sites will be required in the district based on enrolment projections for the next 10 years, likely in the Hammond Bay and Pleasant Valley areas. Ministry of Education standards for schools mean that the district will need to purchase 5.4 hectares. A resolution passed by NLPS’s board of education in October 2021 indicated that, at current land costs, the land will cost approximately $10.5 million.

NLPS has said that applying the SSAC to two or more dwelling units provides more realistic opportunities for collection of the charge.

“Given that infill creating at least two doors but less than four is likely to have single family dwellings, a housing type that creates a high number of school-age children, the Board of Education feels that the charge is appropriate in the circumstances,” NLPS Secretary-Treasurer Mark Walsh wrote to the LTC in 2021.

Prior to voting in favour of the motion, Gabriola Trustee Kees Langereis noted the adjustment would have an impact on a number of future subdivisions.

The RDN’s bylaw stipulates that secondary suites are exempt from the charge. The charge is also not payable when an existing building is demolished and replaced with a new building that contains the same number of, or fewer, self-contained dwelling units than the existing building.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder