Signal Hill Homes, Pemberton working out cost kinks 

The Village of Pemberton may have worked out a cheaper alternative to having Signal Hill Homes put up $4 million for off-site servicing improvements.

Both parties met last Thursday to discuss potential solutions for upgrading nearby sewers that likely couldn't accommodate the volume of waste generated by people in the proposed 462-unit neighbourhood.

A Pique story last week noted that the developers of Signal Hill Homes could be required to pay up to $9.5 million in various charges before even breaking ground for construction. Those costs include putting up $4 million to upgrade the surrounding sewers - money the developers don't think they can afford.

Now the village and the developers think they've worked out a solution that likely won't cost as much to implement.

Signal Hill developer Bruce van Mook said in an interview last Thursday that there's a possibility he and partner Garth Phare could help develop a sewage system starting at the Benchlands neighbourhood on the hill above the downtown area.

Sewage could flow from there down to Prospect Street and through the "Wye lands," one of three areas planned for development by Signal Hill Homes. The sewer pipes would then continue under the nearby railway tracks and under the new gateway road before reaching Pump Station No. 1, which is in the vicinity of Harrow Road at the boundary between Area C and the village.

They're proposing to "oversize" the sewage line between the Wye lands and Pump Station No. 1 in order to facilitate future development in Pemberton.

"What that does is it takes the burden of all that development off the Benchlands, which previously was thought to run through old systems," van Mook said. "We think we found an amicable solution that takes the burden off the old systems so they don't need to be upgraded in as expeditious a manner as they suggested."

The developers don't yet have the full cost but van Mook estimates all off-site servicing improvements could cost in the vicinity of $1.5 million, including possible upgrades to a water line in the village as well as nearby roadworks.

He added it's likely the cost of upgrading that servicing could be shared with the community by getting a credit towards its development cost charge, which previously looked as though it would cost Signal Hill Homes a total $2 million.

"We're just in the preliminary negotiations of that," van Mook said. "We have the philosophical plan, then we have to do the math, speak to council and get their thoughts. So we're not there yet, but (we had a) very fruitful meting for everyone."

Caroline Lamont, manager of development services for the Village of Pemberton, said in a Tuesday interview that the village had "good discussions" about servicing with the Signal Hill developers and that they brought some "progressive solutions" that staff might agree with.

She wouldn't give specifics as to any possible servicing solutions, saying she'd prefer that council see them first when they meet to discuss them on July 21.

"Certainly Signal Hill's responsible for all their on-site services, but there is consideration of improvements that might be in lieu of the development cost charges," she said. "So that might be considered. Council may not consider the upsizing their responsibility."

Last week's meeting didn't, however, touch on a community amenity charge that could cost the developers $1,836,055 and that would help offset Signal Hill's impacts on public facilities, services and amenities.

A March 3 report to a Committee of the Whole meeting praises the development and provides direction to consider some "in lieu" credit to the community amenity charge, although the report mentions that village policy would need to be amended to make this happen.

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