Community Amenity Contributions: What are they and why should I care?
Real estate dominates news headlines but the topic can also be a confusing one, full of complicated acronyms and convoluted lingo.
Fortunately, at the Urban Development Institute (UDI), we can help translate. Our non-profit association is dedicated to fostering effective communication between the real estate development industry, the government and the public.
To help you sort through the rhetoric, we’ve outlined the facts surrounding a hot topic right now: Community Amenity Contributions, also known as “CACs.”
CACs are one tool that municipalities use to collect money from development, in order to finance, build and expand facilities. They come in the form of contributions – cash or infrastructure – that property developers agree to make when city councils approve applications for rezoning.
The Zoning Bylaw determines what type of development is allowed within a municipality. Rezoning refers to any change to the Zoning Bylaw.
Property developers will sometimes submit rezoning applications to municipalities, requesting changes in an area’s zoning to allow for development. Changing zoning to allow for greater height and density, or changes in use, typically increases the value of the land.
In return for the increase in value, municipalities often require developers to pay CACs. When properties are rezoned to higher density, municipalities can receive money from development, which is then used to provide benefits and amenities. CACs allow developers and municipalities to work together to build the amenities that are needed to accommodate this growth
Through CACs, developers have paid for many of Metro Vancouver’s popular amenities that make our region a more livable and vibrant place to live.
CACs have helped build new parks, libraries, daycare facilities, affordable housing, public art, community centres, transportation services and cultural facilities. Without development, these amenities would either never get built, or would need to be financed by increased taxation.
If not managed carefully, CACs run the risk of negatively affecting the housing market.
Here’s how it works: In markets like Metro Vancouver where the land and housing supply is limited, high CAC charges leave fewer dollars for developers to purchase land. If the price of land is not attractive enough for land owners to sell, there will be less land made available for development, resulting in a lack of new housing, which can drive up housing prices.
The B.C. government recently released guidelines on how local municipalities should manage CACs, keeping them at a reasonable level to ensure that housing prices are not negatively affected. To read more about it, click here.
The Urban Development Institute is the premier industry body representing over 600 of British Columbia’s leading residential, commercial, industrial and institutional developers. The real estate development industry in BC supports 221,000 jobs, and contributes approximately $17 billion to the provincial economy.
Image: Henriquez Partners Architects