The vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Home Builders Association says St. John’s development fees make houses here less affordable.
Steve Porter, speaking at Making Room in the Boom, a forum on housing affordability held at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s, said St. John’s fees on developments make housing in the city less affordable, contrary to the city’s goal of providing more affordable housing. Porter said the city — which recently doubled development and subdivision application fees — sometimes seems to view construction as a way to generate as much tax revenue as possible, and said the city isn’t consulting people involved soon enough.
“What we’ve been finding is that a lot of times — we almost hear it through the grapevine — that there’s going to be a new development fee, or an increase in fees, or new form of taxation,” he said. “In a lot of cases they’re almost to the end of the decision process before we get involved.”
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said Porter’s comments were unfair, adding that St. John’s development fees are among the lowest in the country.
“We work to maintain that level of having low fees in order to encourage, not only affordable housing, but also attainable housing and housing for low-income individuals,” he said.
The mayor added that developments aren’t evaluated on the basis of how much revenue they might provide to the city.
“We realize that we need revenue in order to operate the city and in order to continue to provide all the services and the amenities that people who live here in the city and the region really use and want to have,” he said, “but in no way, shape or form do we approach any development on the basis of it being mainly a revenue generator.”
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