Townhouse development fees lowest in White Rock, study finds

METRO VANCOUVER – Municipal fees and charges for townhouse projects can vary wildly across Metro Vancouver – from a low of $8,390 per unit in White Rock and Port Moody to a high of $33,713 for a similar unit in Surrey.

That was one of the key findings in a report, Getting To Groundbreaking, that examined the municipal and home builder experience in getting new housing projects approved in the region from 2011 through 2013.

Researchers used a hypothetical 22-unit townhouse development on a 1.19-acre site to determine municipal cost differences throughout the region.

“There’s a huge difference in the fees and charges that municipalities impose,” said Simon Fraser University associate professor Meg Holden, the report’s lead author.

“Does it really cost that much more to service development in one city compared with another?”

She said cost differences can occur for several reasons – including having to deal with land issues such as slope protection or the need to build new roads and infrastructure to accommodate the project.

But she said differences in municipal fees and processing times don’t automatically cause higher buying prices for consumers.

“It’s much more complicated than that,” Holden said.

The report is a joint research project involving SFU’s Urban Studies Program, the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association and Urban Development Institute.

Researchers used four measures to produce a Housing Partnership Index that lists the top 10 Metro Vancouver communities for townhouse development.

Langley Township topped the list, followed by Richmond, Vancouver, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Surrey, Maple Ridge, White Rock, Port Coquitlam and the City of North Vancouver.

Municipal estimates of the time required to approve the proposed townhouse project ranged from a low of 39 weeks in White Rock to a high of 72 weeks in Maple Ridge.

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