City imposes new levy to curb land value speculation


City Council in September officially approved the Millennium Line Broadway Extension. The approval included a new levy intended to reduce speculation in real estate along the subway line. The fee is to be paid at the beginning of a community planning process, based on policy priorities and projected economic viability resulting from a rezoning. Following the completion of the planning program, the fee was to be revisited and updated to reflect densities, mix of uses and amenity needs. The fee was to be applicable only to incremental density above existing zoning. The fee was to be initiated during the Broadway subway planning process.


Land values skyrocketed along the Broadway corridor after the city unveiled plans for a subway line from VCC to Arbutus. Primary objective of the policy was to curb land value speculation.
The city believes that the most effective approach to achieve that goal is to provide buyers and sellers with clear and consistent information about city priorities for the Broadway area.
Some say the city acted at least two years too late. The fee should have been imposed when the region first decided to build an underground subway along Broadway. Others say the new fee should be imposed more widely, whenever the city unveils plans that might spark speculation.


The initiative to curb land speculation was part of a comprehensive land use policy for the Broadway area between Clark Drive and Vine Street that called for integration of development with the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.

City staff say the new fee, called a development contribution expectation (DCE), is intended to limit land value speculation by ensuring that owners, realtors and developers are made aware of the city’s intention to preserve and grow affordable rental housing, job space and public benefits along the corridor. By articulating the City’s priorities and expectations at the outset of the planning process, the city hopes that sellers and buyers of land in the Broadway area will temper the price.

Based on evaluation of the economic viability of hypothetical development scenarios that might occur, consultants hired by the city estimated the land value that would be created if additional strata residential development rights were granted in different locations and in different existing zoning districts along the Broadway Corridor.

The DCE targets for increased density as of June 2018, were $425 per square foot west of Main Street and $330 per square feet east of Main Street. The new levy was to be imposed concurrent with the beginning of planning. The revenue was to be spent on community amenities and affordable housing.



Last Updated: December 6, 2018