Workers put the finishing touches on entrances to new portables at Mt. Slesse middle school in Chilliwack. The school district has about 100 portables in use, and is planning to build three new schools in the immediate future. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Funding for new Chilliwack schools could drive up development costs

School Site Acquisition Costs could dramatically increase by almost 30 per cent

Development charges could be going up for new homes in Chilliwack, to help cover the cost of providing new schools as the city continues to grow.

A portion of the development cost charges developers pay goes into the school system for the purchase of land, called School Site Acquisition Charges (SSAC). Chilliwack school district staff says in a report that the amount being charged right now needs to increase, to truly reflect the growing demands of the city. They expect to need to build at least three new schools in the immediate future, and need to find the funding to do so.

READ MORE: Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

They will present a recommendation to the school board this week outlining the current rates and the suggested increases, along with justification for it through a series of charts illustrating the growth pattern and sharp rise in the cost of real estate in this city.

“As land values in the Fraser Valley have substantially increased in the past 10 years,” the recommendation says, “it is prudent for the District to embark on the process of ensuring that the SSAC that is charged to residential developers incorporates the most recent market data.”

It states that the current SSAC is a base rate of $491 per residential unit. Information contained in the proposal would see this rate increase to $634, an increase of 29.1 per cent.

In the past four years, the school district has received an average of $538,000 in local capital revenue from the SSAC. The proposed increase to the SSAC would provide an additional $155,600 in revenue annually, but would need to be adopted by the City of Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley Regional District, as well as needing feedback from developers themselves.

The school district is estimating that there will be 10,570 new development units constructed in the school district over the next 10 years, and that those units would be home to an estimated 4,639 school age children.

The three schools needed to provide education to those children would require 9.29 hectares, a current market value of just under $30 million.

The district used a company called Urban Systems to gather data on local housing starts to recalculate the SSAC.

The land purchases being considered by the school district are for an east-side Chilliwack elementary, a south-side elementary and a Promontory middle school. No specific sites have been publicly identified yet by the district, but the projects were announced as part of an aggressive Five Year Capital Plan approved by the school board in May. That plan seeks to add a total of 2,900 student spaces to Chilliwack’s education system.

The current enrolment is at 14,094, with current capacity at 12,080, leaving a “pent-up demand” of just over 2,000 spaces.

For a full report on the board’s decision (Tuesday, June 18) watch theprogress.com.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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