Community Amenity Contribution Policy Review

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The District of Squamish is reviewing and updating the Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) policy. The policy was last reviewed in 2018. As market conditions change, it is important to review the policy. These changes will guide how the District collects CACs from new developments going forward.


A survey was open from June 8-30, 2022 to collect feedback on these proposed changes. The results from the survey are available here and will be presented to Council on October 11, 2022. Council meetings can be watched live here and recordings can be watched at a later date here.


What Are CACs:

CACs are cash or in-kind contributions that developers provide to help address community needs that result from population growth.

The District negotiates CACs as part of new development applications (rezoning applications and OCP Bylaw amendments only). CACs help pay for some of the costs associated with population growth that don't have funding through other legislated fees. Some examples of what CACs can fund include recreational facilities and publicly owned affordable housing. Generally, CACs are calculated based on the size of residential development being proposed, with larger developments providing a larger contribution. CACs do not fund infrastructure improvements for a development. Instead, they are meant to help address community needs that result from population growth over and above infrastructure demands.

CACs are different from Development Cost Charges (DCCs). DCCs are charged to new developments to cover the costs of upgrades offsite from the development, such as waste water treatment facilities or new water mains.

Current CAC Policy:

The current CAC policy was created in 2015 and has gone through one major review since then. The current policy directs CACs for new developments as follows:

  • Smaller Rezonings (less than 50 dwelling units): Pay cash in lieu of $15/ft². These funds are directed towards critical facilities, child care facilities, and affordable housing.
  • Larger Rezonings (greater than 50 dwelling units): Make either a financial contribution of $21/ft² of new residential space or ensure that 10% of all units in the new development are affordable rental housing, plus a cash contribution of $6/ft².
  • The current policy also has provisions for cash in lieu contributions of $1.00 per square foot for active transportation amenities and $0.50 per square foot for park amenities (or equivalent construction of park and transportation amenities).
  • In the current policy, market rental housing is also subject to lower CAC targets of $5/ft².

Proposed Changes in the 2022 Policy Review:

1. Discontinue rate reductions (which drop the per ft² rate from $21 to $6) for developments that provide affordable housing units onsite.

  • Affordable housing units that are built by private developments are generally privately owned and as a result are a source of income for the owner, while the construction is financed by banks. Developers should still aim to provide a certain percentage of units (10% to 15%) as affordable housing and and a similar amount as market rental. This approach would align the District’s approach with rates in Surrey and District of North Vancouver.

2. Review the Affordable Housing onsite contribution target and determine whether it could be increased to 15% or 20%, and set an average minimum unit size.

  • The current policy for affordable rental units is 10%. In practice, new developments are targeting 15%. Given that financing is generally available for developer-owned affordable units, 20% may be a feasible target to address a critical housing affordability situation in Squamish. 20% affordable rental housing is a common practice in Vancouver.
  • An average minimum unit size for affordable units would help with consistency in affordable unit sizes.

3. Reduce the threshold for when onsite affordable housing is recommended.

  • The current threshold for when a development should include onsite affordable housing units is 50 units or more. This threshold could be potentially reduced to 20 units or more; however, in those cases a target of 10% may be more appropriate (rather than 15% or 20%), cash-in-lieu target rates would still apply.

4. Create a target for some affordable housing units to be dedicated to the Housing Society.

  • In larger developments, a smaller percentage of units could potentially be built and given to the Squamish Housing Society to own and operate.

5. Squamish Community Housing Society should be given first right of refusal to manage developer’s affordable housing units.

  • The recently established housing society will be able to manage affordable housing units. This should be reflected in the CAC policy with allowance for the Society to determine if they are able to manage the operation of the developer-owned affordable units for a fee.

6. Account for land dedications with a flexible approach.

  • Developments on large parcels may be able to provide land contributions as part of the CAC approach to fuel the District’s future affordable housing supply. The developer’s ability to supply land contributions depends on a number of factors such as the overall size of the development and the cost of land when it was acquired by the developer. Including this as an option for larger developments to be explored on a case-by-case basis through a site specific analysis may be possible.

7. Set expectations of when the cash-in-lieu CACs are collected.

  • Ideally, CACs should be collected at the adoption of the rezoning application as this is the moment when value is being created on the land through the rezoning process. However, in some cases the contribution may be substantial and developer may not have project financing secured at that point (usually at Development Permit stage). The issue of delaying the CACs to a later stage is changing market conditions. Sometimes the period between rezoning and DP issuance can be three or more years, which could result in a loss in value for the District of the CAC when it is received years after the rezoning. To ensure that the District can keep up with investments in community amenities, an interest rate could be set in the CAC policy for those developments that are not able to make the cash contribution at the time of adoption.

8. Allow for adjustment of the set rate CAC targets so they can be adjusted every year if market conditions change dramatically.

  • One of the issues with a set rate is the District’s capacity to review the policy on an annual basis. When market conditions change dramatically from year to year, the policy should allow some flexibility for staff to negotiate the applicable rate.

9. Develop a criteria for large projects to be subject to a land lift analysis rather than a set rate.

  • For larger projects, the use of a site-specific analysis could yield a better approach that is resilient to changing market conditions. In this case, the District would need to set a target for capturing a portion of land lift value (for example 50%) and then the District would either need to hire a land economist or retain an assessor to establish how the rezoning will impact the land value.

10. Onsite child care facilities, when incorporated in mixed use developments, should come with affordable lease rates and be reserved for non-profit operators to ensure that child care rates are affordable.

  • To formalize current practice, the CAC policy could aim that developments integrate on-site child care spaces. If a development exceeds the provision of space for children expected to require child care in a particular development, the additional space could be recognized as having community value.
  • One of the issues affecting affordability of child care in Squamish is the lease rates for such facilities, particularly in newly-built spaces (lease rates of older buildings tend to be lower). A maximum affordable lease rate could be established to ensure that child care providers can afford the space. In such cases, and as per current practice, priority should be given to non-profit child care providers to maximize affordability of child care.
  • Some of the affordable housing units could be allocated to child care workers. Where a development project proposes to physically provide affordable housing units and a child care facility as part of the amenity package, a portion of those affordable housing units would be allocated to early childhood educators.


The District of Squamish is reviewing and updating the Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) policy. The policy was last reviewed in 2018. As market conditions change, it is important to review the policy. These changes will guide how the District collects CACs from new developments going forward.


A survey was open from June 8-30, 2022 to collect feedback on these proposed changes. The results from the survey are available here and will be presented to Council on October 11, 2022. Council meetings can be watched live here and recordings can be watched at a later date here.


What Are CACs:

CACs are cash or in-kind contributions that developers provide to help address community needs that result from population growth.

The District negotiates CACs as part of new development applications (rezoning applications and OCP Bylaw amendments only). CACs help pay for some of the costs associated with population growth that don't have funding through other legislated fees. Some examples of what CACs can fund include recreational facilities and publicly owned affordable housing. Generally, CACs are calculated based on the size of residential development being proposed, with larger developments providing a larger contribution. CACs do not fund infrastructure improvements for a development. Instead, they are meant to help address community needs that result from population growth over and above infrastructure demands.

CACs are different from Development Cost Charges (DCCs). DCCs are charged to new developments to cover the costs of upgrades offsite from the development, such as waste water treatment facilities or new water mains.

Current CAC Policy:

The current CAC policy was created in 2015 and has gone through one major review since then. The current policy directs CACs for new developments as follows:

  • Smaller Rezonings (less than 50 dwelling units): Pay cash in lieu of $15/ft². These funds are directed towards critical facilities, child care facilities, and affordable housing.
  • Larger Rezonings (greater than 50 dwelling units): Make either a financial contribution of $21/ft² of new residential space or ensure that 10% of all units in the new development are affordable rental housing, plus a cash contribution of $6/ft².
  • The current policy also has provisions for cash in lieu contributions of $1.00 per square foot for active transportation amenities and $0.50 per square foot for park amenities (or equivalent construction of park and transportation amenities).
  • In the current policy, market rental housing is also subject to lower CAC targets of $5/ft².

Proposed Changes in the 2022 Policy Review:

1. Discontinue rate reductions (which drop the per ft² rate from $21 to $6) for developments that provide affordable housing units onsite.

  • Affordable housing units that are built by private developments are generally privately owned and as a result are a source of income for the owner, while the construction is financed by banks. Developers should still aim to provide a certain percentage of units (10% to 15%) as affordable housing and and a similar amount as market rental. This approach would align the District’s approach with rates in Surrey and District of North Vancouver.

2. Review the Affordable Housing onsite contribution target and determine whether it could be increased to 15% or 20%, and set an average minimum unit size.

  • The current policy for affordable rental units is 10%. In practice, new developments are targeting 15%. Given that financing is generally available for developer-owned affordable units, 20% may be a feasible target to address a critical housing affordability situation in Squamish. 20% affordable rental housing is a common practice in Vancouver.
  • An average minimum unit size for affordable units would help with consistency in affordable unit sizes.

3. Reduce the threshold for when onsite affordable housing is recommended.

  • The current threshold for when a development should include onsite affordable housing units is 50 units or more. This threshold could be potentially reduced to 20 units or more; however, in those cases a target of 10% may be more appropriate (rather than 15% or 20%), cash-in-lieu target rates would still apply.

4. Create a target for some affordable housing units to be dedicated to the Housing Society.

  • In larger developments, a smaller percentage of units could potentially be built and given to the Squamish Housing Society to own and operate.

5. Squamish Community Housing Society should be given first right of refusal to manage developer’s affordable housing units.

  • The recently established housing society will be able to manage affordable housing units. This should be reflected in the CAC policy with allowance for the Society to determine if they are able to manage the operation of the developer-owned affordable units for a fee.

6. Account for land dedications with a flexible approach.

  • Developments on large parcels may be able to provide land contributions as part of the CAC approach to fuel the District’s future affordable housing supply. The developer’s ability to supply land contributions depends on a number of factors such as the overall size of the development and the cost of land when it was acquired by the developer. Including this as an option for larger developments to be explored on a case-by-case basis through a site specific analysis may be possible.

7. Set expectations of when the cash-in-lieu CACs are collected.

  • Ideally, CACs should be collected at the adoption of the rezoning application as this is the moment when value is being created on the land through the rezoning process. However, in some cases the contribution may be substantial and developer may not have project financing secured at that point (usually at Development Permit stage). The issue of delaying the CACs to a later stage is changing market conditions. Sometimes the period between rezoning and DP issuance can be three or more years, which could result in a loss in value for the District of the CAC when it is received years after the rezoning. To ensure that the District can keep up with investments in community amenities, an interest rate could be set in the CAC policy for those developments that are not able to make the cash contribution at the time of adoption.

8. Allow for adjustment of the set rate CAC targets so they can be adjusted every year if market conditions change dramatically.

  • One of the issues with a set rate is the District’s capacity to review the policy on an annual basis. When market conditions change dramatically from year to year, the policy should allow some flexibility for staff to negotiate the applicable rate.

9. Develop a criteria for large projects to be subject to a land lift analysis rather than a set rate.

  • For larger projects, the use of a site-specific analysis could yield a better approach that is resilient to changing market conditions. In this case, the District would need to set a target for capturing a portion of land lift value (for example 50%) and then the District would either need to hire a land economist or retain an assessor to establish how the rezoning will impact the land value.

10. Onsite child care facilities, when incorporated in mixed use developments, should come with affordable lease rates and be reserved for non-profit operators to ensure that child care rates are affordable.

  • To formalize current practice, the CAC policy could aim that developments integrate on-site child care spaces. If a development exceeds the provision of space for children expected to require child care in a particular development, the additional space could be recognized as having community value.
  • One of the issues affecting affordability of child care in Squamish is the lease rates for such facilities, particularly in newly-built spaces (lease rates of older buildings tend to be lower). A maximum affordable lease rate could be established to ensure that child care providers can afford the space. In such cases, and as per current practice, priority should be given to non-profit child care providers to maximize affordability of child care.
  • Some of the affordable housing units could be allocated to child care workers. Where a development project proposes to physically provide affordable housing units and a child care facility as part of the amenity package, a portion of those affordable housing units would be allocated to early childhood educators.
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. Thank you to everyone who reached out with questions.

Do you have a question about this project? Please ask us here.

  • Your question will be public once we have answered it. If your question contains personal information we may not make your question public and may respond privately. 
  • Your username and question may appear in reports to Council as part of engagement reporting.
  • Questions that do not contribute to a safe and respectful space for others, or are unrelated to this topic, will not be answered. Please review our moderation policy.
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    When agreed between all parties is the details of the "contribution: accounted for as a separate item in the annual budget. The contributions should be in the public domain so all citizens are aware of the contribution and how it is managed by the District after it is received and on the bokks?

    Bill Cavanagh asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you for this comment. With the latest update of the CAC Policy, the District will be including CAC collections and expenditures in our annual reports. They will also be included in annual budget documents to highlight the transactions and projects that are funded by CACs to the public.

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    I took the survey, and found it to be perhaps an exercise in data collection for the sake of data collection. Have you found any non-developer that does not agree with the proposed changes? Will you be gathering data asking if residents feel the proposed changes go far enough? Or asking residents for their ideas? This survey does nothing but provide data supporting the report's recommendations.

    Roverdevin asked 3 months ago

    This CAC survey will help to inform updates to the existing CAC policy. At this time, the District is not planning to change where and how CACs are spent or what the policy targets should be. As a result, we are not seeking feedback on the full scale of the policy. The proposed updates to this policy were developed after studying 17 municipalities in the Sea to Sky, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island that have a CAC policy to see how the CAC policy in Squamish compares. After this review, the District proposed a series of updates to the CAC policy based on a land economic analysis (how much the District can adjust current rates before development is not feasible). With this survey, we are looking to see what level of support there is for these proposed changes. The results will be considered by Council as they make a decision about these proposed changes to the CAC policy. 

    The survey ends on June 30. The responses will be analyzed once the survey closes. We will have more clear understanding about how respondents feel about the proposed changes at that time. 

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    Thanks for the excellent presentation on the District's Update to CAC policy last week Jonas. Here are some of my thoughts & suggestions. 1) I would suggest the "Land Lift" model should be looked at at a lower threshold for rezonings. What a piece of property is being re-zoned from determines the increase in value of the land more than what is built. If you rezone land that is zoned Greenways, Agricultural, or Industrial, there is likely a much higher land lift than if the land is just becoming higher density residential. 2) I think you are partly working on this, and it may be hard to do, but there should be ways to capture increased profits as final values increase over time. Some developers are making millions by getting rezoning (during slow real estate or economic times) and then waiting years to complete their projects. Since the land cost is fixed for them, their profits increase substantially. A good example is RedPoint/RedBridge, which was selling units at $250K and is now selling them for around $1 million. 3) In reading through staff documents on development proposals, the amount given for developer profit is 12%, and now you are saying some banks want to see 15%. I'm skeptical. In the mid-2000s when I was following this closely, Interest/Mortage rates were 5-6%, and the given rate for profit that developers HAD to make was 8%. Now, Interest rates are 2-3%, and the necessary profit rate is 12%, which is 3 times higher. 4) I would suggest taking a LOT more cash, and fewer affordable housing units. Affordable Housing Units are important, but an affordable unit benefits only one family or a couple of people at a time, while a community amenity benefits everyone. An additional turf soccer field is about $1 million and would allow hundreds of kids to have a longer soccer season. We could pay about the same for a really nice water park. For a few million, you could get a badly needed 2nd, and maybe 3rd exit from downtown before we add thousands more people. With cash, we can do things. Right away. Taking Cash gives the District control of the money and the timing. I know the Anthem project on Centennial Way promised a Daycare Facility. It is much needed, but we won't see it until they build it - which is at their discretion. If we had cash, we could get started on new daycare facilities right away. We definitely need Affordable Housing, but I would suggest we need more balance to create the amenities and infrastructure that we desperately need in Squamish and so that residents, in general, see the benefits of the growth we are experiencing, instead of just the negatives. [Yes, taking cash up front may conflict with #2 - and there is a balance to be found.]

    gordaddison asked 4 months ago

    Thanks for reaching out and we are glad you found the presentation helpful! We have separated our responses to your comments and questions below. 

    1) Thank you for your comment about the threshold being lowered for when to use the land lift model. This feedback will be shared with Council and considered while drafting changes for Council consideration.

    2) In terms of capturing increased values as profits increase over time, you are right, this is something we are looking at by introducing a sunset clause. With a sunset clause, after a certain period of time the development agreements will need to be renegotiated if construction has not started.

    3) Relating to profits for developers, 15% profit share is a standard current practice in proforma modeling for development proposals. This stems from common financing requirements by banks. It is not to say that all lenders require 15%, but as a common requirement, it needs to be assumed. We appreciate this comment and we will take a closer look at this. 

    4) In terms of collecting more cash, our focus is to collect enough cash to support recreational and other amenities, while also incentivising affordable housing and daycare. Affordable housing and daycare have broad benefits to the community and are critical. Both support our workforce and allow businesses to operate, which provide services and amenities to our community.

    It would cost the District much more to build these facilities with cash outside of a mixed use project. The District would be responsible to build and also to operate the project management process.

    It also has land implications. If the District built these facilities, it would require the District to secure additional lands in suitable areas and establish servicing etc.

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    I don't have a question so much as a comment and a suggestion. I think your ideas are good given the current Situation in Squamish - affordable housing and affordable child care. I realize I have a question - what is a "land lift"? It would be nice to see developments think about transportation needs and car storage needs. Therefore ALL new developments should have a good amount of parking for residents and visitors so that are streets can be safer for bicycling and walking. Additionally new developments should have sidewalks and bike lanes installed in front of them.

    DarleneA1 asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for this question and these comments. Land lift value is the increase in the value of the land as a result of adding more residential density to a property, once the project costs and expected profit margins are deducted. 

    To determine land lift value, the value of the rezoned land is first calculated. This is done by adding together the original land value, plus all of the expected development costs for project, and a 15% return on investment for a developer (this is the profit margin that banks usually look for in order to finance a project). This number is then compared to the expected revenue a project will generate for a developer. Any extra revenue on top of the developer’s 15% margin is considered a land lift.

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    Three questions: 1) can funds raised through CACs be used to fund community amenities such as a new rec centre? 2) Who decides — the developer or District — if a financial contribution or affordable housing will be provided? How does the District assess the relative contribution of both? 3) How do the CAC rates charged under the existing policy compare to rates charged by both the City of Vancouver and North Vancouver, assuming similar policies are in place?

    EmmaHume asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for reaching out to us with these questions. We have prepared answers below:

    Can funds raised through CACs be used to fund community amenities such as a new rec centre?

    CACs can be used to fund community amenities such as a recreation centre. Recreational facilities directly support population growth while also improving community services for existing residents. The intention is for recreation facilities to remain eligible for CAC funding in the new policy.  

    To date, given the severity of the housing affordability issue, the District has focused CACs on securing affordable housing units for our community. 

    Who decides — the developer or District — if a financial contribution or affordable housing will be provided?

    Currently, the CAC policy guides developers and District staff on when onsite affordable housing units should be included as part of a CAC package. A financial contribution is always a target for any CAC package. 

    • For smaller developments (less than 50 residential dwellings), the financial target is for the developer to provide $16.50 per square foot of new density. 
    • For larger developments (50+ residential dwellings), the current target is $7.50 per square foot and 15% of units in the development secured as affordable housing. In some cases, having affordable housing in a particular development may not be ideal (depending on the location or form of development) and in those cases the policy requires a financial contribution of $22.50 per square foot of new density. 
    • Higher rates apply to developments on greenfield sites. Greenfield sites are land that is undeveloped prior to an application, is not serviced by municipal infrastructure, and is largely in its natural state (or has been returned to a natural state).


    How do the CAC rates charged under the existing policy compare to rates charged by both the City of Vancouver and North Vancouver, assuming similar policies are in place? 

    District staff surveyed 17 municipalities in the Lower Mainland and some on Vancouver Island to compare CAC policies. Each municipality has unique approaches and rate targets.

    The City of Vancouver uses a blended approach where CACs are negotiated on case-by-case basis for larger proposals and smaller proposals have a flat rate of $53.23 per square foot of new density (note that Vancouver has by far the highest CAC rates in surveyed jurisdictions). The City of North Vancouver has a similar approach to Squamish with a flat rate of $25 per square foot of new density.

    The graph below showcases the flat fee rate per square foot for CACs in a number of municipalities in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island:


    Some more details are available here: https://letstalksquamish.ca/cac-policy-review/widgets/125804/faqs#24536

Page last updated: 06 Oct 2022, 04:16 PM