East end of town needs a new sewer line for the Fowlers Road, Neils Line area
The intersection of Neil's Line Extension at Fowler's Road in Conception Bay South. The area needs upgrades to sewer lines to allow for future development. The town will impose a levy on news homes built in the area to help pay for work.- Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
It all runs down hill and at the bottom of this road is the home buyer. Conception Bay South needs a bigger sewer line to accommodate development in the east end of the town and it costs big money.
The town will pass the cost on to the developer who will ultimately pass it on to the prospective new home buyer says the provincial homebuilders association.
Neither are happy with the situation, but if developers want to build and families want to purchase in the Fowlers Road or Neils Line area of C.B.S. everyone has to pay, says Mayor Woodrow French.
"The infrastructure in the town is 35 years old. It's outgrown the capacity of the sewer system and we have a number of applications in the system. When we found out the capacity was maxed out, there was a possibility we were going to have to stop any development in the east end of the town," he said.
In order to allow the four or five developments already conditionally approved by the town for that particular area, French said the system had to be upgraded and, in order to pay for it, council imposed a levy.
The motion, made in early September, implemented a $3,750 fee for every lot developed in the area.
French said it's going to cost more than a million dollars to upgrade the system and the town can't afford to do it on its own. Fortunately, he said the expenditure is cost recoverable.
While not speaking specifically about the situation in C.B.S., Victoria Belbin, CEO of the provincial homebuilders association, said this is an ongoing trend.
"We're seeing government imposed costs on new home development. Municipalities are trying to find other revenue sources so what they're doing is increasing taxes, fees charging levies on new home construction as a way to cover costs. Some municipalities see it as a cash cow, 'all these builders are making all this money and we should be part of it,'" she said.
Unfortunately, Belbin said, the ones who end up suffering are the families. She said the association, locally and nationally, advocate for more housing affordability - not affordable housing - keeping the costs low so consumers have a choice.
"In these situations where municipalities raise fees or development costs they are ultimately, because of the cost of building a new home, putting it on the new family," she said.
Last year, Belbin said the Town of Paradise increased its costs for new home construction by 250 per cent, which she said the association considered an ill informed decision.
"We caution municipalities that an increase in development fees does not help communities but places pressure on housing affordability and the public. When they put a levy or new fee in place costs are transferred to the price of the new home therefore impacting housing affordability to families in that municipality," she said.
In the past four years, Belbin said developers in Newfoundland and Labrador have faced increasing costs. She said the price of undeveloped land has doubled, labour costs are up 50 to 60 percent and that affects people looking to buy homes.
The key, she said is planning and getting everyone together to nail down the issues.
French said while the town didn't actually have a planning meeting with developers, officials did speak with builders to inform them of the levy.
"We told the developers 'look here's what we got to do. We can't let you go ahead under the situation that it's in right now, but if you want it to go ahead here's the way it has to be done and they agreed with it," said the mayor.
The new infrastructure is a short-term fix to accommodate the developers who have projects going on there now, said French, adding the whole system there will eventually have to be upgraded.
He said tenders have gone out and the town is hopeful the job will be done this year.