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Rezoning fees tapped to fund first-time buyers

October 27, 2021

Langford has seen a condo building boom over the past decade.
| Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty

Many Canadian municipalities charge rezoning fees to residential developers with the money often marked for community amenities, or, most likely, general municipal revenues.
But one B.C. community on Vancouver Island is using $3 million raised through condo development fees to help first-time homebuyers with their condo down payment.
The City of Langford, the fastest-growing suburban community in Greater Victoria, has developed a reserve to provide partial down payments for Langford residents to buy their first home. The reserve money is part of the proceeds from decades of rezoning fees charged to developers.
Mayor Stew Young of the West Shore community said a housing crisis requires novel thinking.
“It’s tough for young families to get into the market, even in Langford,” said Young, noting the average sale price of a single-family home in Langford is nearly $900,000 and is more than  $1 million in Victoria. “A lot of people say they feel their opportunity to get in is now gone.”
Langford’s Attainable Home Ownership program will offer as much as 75 per cent of the five per cent down payment required for a condo in Langford, is meant to help young buyers.
Assistance is to be granted on a sliding scale based on gross annual household income. Those with incomes less than $99,999 would receive 75 per cent, while those between $100,000 and $115,000 would receive 50 per cent of the down payment, and those with incomes to $125,000 would receive 25 per cent.
The program will launch in early 2022. Qualifying criteria includes maximum household assets of $50,000, that no member of the qualifying family owns any other real estate, is not receiving down payment assistance from any other source, and that the applicant has received pre-approval for a mortgage at the purchase price.
Buyers will also have to agree that should they resell the unit, the price will be limited and it may not be rented for the first five years.
The program gets high praise from the developers who funded it.
Ron Coutre, president of the West Shore Developers Association, said all builders know they have to pay a premium to work in Langford, but the trade-off is a better working environment and knowing some of those fees are being used for programs to help first-time buyers.
“We don’t see other municipalities taking on the challenge of providing attainable housing in any meaningful way the way Langford is doing,” Coutre told the VictoriaTimes Colonist.
For more information on how the program works visit Langford.ca/WelcomeHome


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