BEPPLE – Kamloops has an opportunity to do both growth and green

Copenhagen street. (Image:

LAST WEEK, at Kamloops City Council, Mayor Ken Christian said “If this is a choice between green or growth I’m gonna go with growth.“ I completely disagree.

Green cities are the most vibrant, liveable, walkable and transit friendly.  Green cities have higher densities, and connected neighbourhoods. Think Barcelona, Utrecht or Copenhagen. Urban sprawl is not the growth Kamloops should aspire to. Growth and green are both possible.

And the City of Kamloops has a simple tool to help make both green and growth happen: DCCs.

For B.C. local governments, like the City of Kamloops, Development Cost Charges (DCCs) are one of the most important ways money is raised to pay for infrastructure. Specifically, infrastructure related to growth.

Every year, the City of Kamloops collects about $7.1 million in DCCs from local developers and builders.

Communities across B.C. collect DCCs.  The premise is, that as a community grows, infrastructure such as upgrades to traffic lights, bike lanes, and water reservoirs that are used by the entire community need to be added.  The upgrades don’t need to be done for one new house or two.  But over time, as a city grows, infrastructure needs to be upgraded and expanded.

DCCs are a common pool of money that builders and developers pay into, that a city uses to pay for community infrastructure.

In Kamloops, every new single family house that is built is charged on average $11,287 in DCCs.  For two-family homes, an average of $8,416 is collected per unit.  For multi-family residential, builders pay from about $4,600 to $8,400 per unit, depending on the density.

So every new house that is built in Kamloops has an extra cost tagged on because of DCCs.

Commercial, institutional and industrial new construction all pay as well.  Commercial is at $88.16/m2, institutional is at $104.10/m2, and industrial is $94,369/ha plus a sewer levy.

Now it is entirely true that as a city grows, more infrastructure is needed. But what isn’t true is that the same amount of infrastructure is needed at the centre of the city as at the edge.

Sprawl is costly.

It may cost the same to build or expand a water reservoir in the centre of a city as at the edge.  But it costs far more to pump water out to the outer edges of Westsyde, Barnhartvale or Juniper than to pump water up Munro Street in the Sagebrush Neighborhood, or to Schubert Drive in North Kamloops.

There’s more infrastructure to pump the sewage back from the outer edges of the city as well, be it Pineview, Dufferin, or outer Brocklehurst.

And sprawl has a cost in needing longer roads, more upgraded intersections, longer bike paths and more.

In Kamloops, the city recognizes this, somewhat.  In the core (City Centre, Lower Sahali, and the North Shore), low-density, multi-family residential, the DCC’s per unit are $7,647.  Outside of the core, the DCCs are $8,416.  Medium density units have DCCs of $6,944 in the core, and $7,665 outside the core.  For high density, it’s $4,598 and $5,078 for core versus non-core buildings.

The City of Kamloops gives builders (and ultimately homeowners) an incentive to locate multi-family housing in the core of Kamloops.

But when it comes to single family homes and duplexes, the city charges the same price across the board.  The DCCs in the centre of the city are exactly the same as in Barnhartvale, Pineview or outer Westsyde as they are for downtown, Lower Sahali or the North Shore.

There is no incentive for builders to create new single family or duplex housing in the centre of the city.  Even though it is clear that infrastructure costs more the further out you go, there is no surcharge for sprawl.

The City of Kamloops is ignoring one of the best tools for reducing sprawl: price.

City Council has a chance to support growth and green.  The DCCs are scheduled to be updated in 2019/20.  City staff will sit down with builders to come up with agreed costs for future infrastructure.

Now is the time for City of Kamloops council to say yes to both green and growth by increasing the incentives for more housing of all sorts in the centre of the city. It’s time DCCs for single-family and duplexes are reduced for the core of Kamloops.

Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (7720 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on BEPPLE – Kamloops has an opportunity to do both growth and green

  1. R A George // July 11, 2019 at 1:51 PM // Reply

    It is all very confusing at times,but I do know one thing for sure, Mr Christians statement re Green or Growth put an end to his political future.

  2. Tony Brumell // July 10, 2019 at 12:16 PM // Reply

    99% of the world still relys on wood or other carbon based fuel to do their cooking and heating. When a small wood heater is turned on the amount of harm done is infinitesimal compared to the staggering amount of slash burning done by forest companies and forest fires .I use wood heat as a backup to the loss of electricity (10 hours two winters back) which also stops the gas as well.When a wood stove is used properly the contaminates are very small. Do you think that industry should be able to burn unlimited amounts of carbon fuels while an individual can’t have a small wood stove or heater to improve their quality of living.?

  3. Building itself ain’t “green” at all, actually quite wasteful really. But I wonder where the land availability is in the core of the city. And since the core of the city is mostly already built hence serviced by infrastructure already, how can DCC’s be justified? But regarding council, just recently they got together and decided that secondary suites be the answer to some debatable issues regarding housing affordability.
    I think spreading rentals throughout the city will make for more overall traffic, congestion and pollution which are the antithesis of “green” and the antithesis of “livability” when it is taken as a whole. Lastly, I firmly believe there is no incentive (but perhaps unwillingness) for neither City’s management nor builders and developers to go “green” except for token, palliative efforts. The “machine” that has been created needs to chug along to make money.

  4. John Noakes // July 10, 2019 at 6:14 AM // Reply

    Densification does have its upside but also there is a downside.
    Close to us we used to have a beautiful old single family dwelling which had a nice lawn, shrubs and trees. It’s hard to say how much carbon dioxide was taken into the green plants and used in photosynthesis each growing season.

    Rezoning and densification took place. There are now two large “single family” duplexes which are practically lot line to lot line. A postage stamp of green grass was left for each duplex.

    So, not only has there been a loss of CO2 being used by living plants but also there has been an increase in solar collection and overall heating of that same property during the summer months. Their outside units for air conditioning are running several hours every day trying to keep the new structures cool enough for living in them.

    So, I would argue that it is pretty tough to have both green and growth in a case like this.

    The developer “made some coin” as one councillor put it at the rezoning meeting. In hindsight, that’s what mattered most.

  5. Alan Smith // July 10, 2019 at 5:58 AM // Reply

    Nancy mentioned Copenhagen and I note that their mayor has the courage to try to get rid of wood stoves. Perhaps Kamloops could follow his lead ? The green movement has gone Global and burning wood seems to be an essential part of going green—with terrible consequences in terms of human health and lives.

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