Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a developer is seeking a refund of money collected by City of Powell River for property development.
At the April 23 city council meeting, councillors received a letter from Vancouver-based Cedar Creek Estates Ltd. representative Grant Thomas asking for a refund of fees.
“The Canadian economy is in crisis and our businesses are no different,” stated Thomas in his letter. “The federal and provincial governments are struggling to find efficient means in assisting businesses to buy time in order to allow the economy to recover when we are allowed to go back to work. They are enabling loans, wage guarantees, relief from employment tax burdens and unemployment benefits.
“We believe the most important thing we can do is maintain employment and as much momentum in business activities as is possible in this time of crisis. We are asking for your assistance in this situation without asking for loans or handouts.”
Thomas stated the company had intentions of building three duplexes and secured three building permits. He stated that the company decided the idea of building all six units was possibly not manageable and suspended construction of the last four units with footings having been poured.
“We would like to surrender those permits and repatriate those fees into working capital,” stated Thomas.
He added that the company had a $75,000 security bond for landscaping in place. There is also an approximately $100,000 performance bond warranting work performed on city lands.
“All of the funds discussed in this letter returned by the city would be used to pay wages to Powell River residents and purchase products from Powell River businesses,” stated Thomas.
Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said staff had discussed the matter. He said two of the requests were with respect to securities collected as part of bylaws. He said securities were for the infrastructure design and construction bylaw, in one case, and the building bylaw in the other case.
“It would require amendments to those, which is not something that staff would recommend,” said Brewer. “Returning something would be in contravention of the bylaw. There is no provision for returning permit fees under the building bylaw or the infrastructure design and construction bylaw as it is currently.”
Brewer said where staff does have some options that could be considered is with regard to the landscaping fees. He said staff could review those. In some cases, landscaping fees have been reduced in phased developments, of which this one is.
“That’s one staff could take direction on to respond with a consideration to reducing the landscaping fees,” said Brewer. “I wouldn’t go as far as the developer is hoping to in this letter but at least it would help them in some way.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said that basically, this group is writing a letter, indicating it is having issues regarding COVID-19, it is in the middle of a project and having trouble carrying on.
“I don’t know what their issues are,” said Formosa. “I do know construction companies are still working and building, so I’m not too sure. Staff is recommending we don’t change bylaws and treat this particular contractor any different than the others.”
Brewer said council could give direction to staff to respond with consideration to reducing the landscaping fees. Council provided unanimous consent for staff to do so.
Cedar Creek Estates is building in the vicinity of Powell River Academy of Music.