Halifax considering fee for new homes to help transit

Staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality want to levy a development fee for all new housing construction to help cover public transit costs, but the idea is not going over well with some home builders.

Developers not happy with proposal to charge $882 for every new house

Staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality want to levy a development fee for all new housing construction to help cover transit costs. (Richard Buchan/Canadian Press)

Staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality want to levy a development fee for all new housing construction to help cover public transit costs, but the idea is not going over well with some home builders.

To pay for an expanded bus service, developers could be asked to pay a fee of $882 for every new detached or semi-detached home they build.

The idea was presented to the Halifax Regional Municipality's Audit and Finance Committee on Wednesday.

"We want to make sure that those new homes are contributing to the entire system, not just to the buses they may see going down their street," said Bruce Fisher, the manager of financial policy for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

A transit fee isn't the only new cost that home construction is facing.

The water commission is requesting higher water and sewer charges and there's the possibility of mandatory underground utilities.

Developers said the new expenses could add as much as $30,000 to the price of a new home.

"Basically they're seeing the residential construction industry as a cash cow," said Paul Pettipas, executive director of the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has also asked the province for permission to charge development fees to cover fire, recreation and library services but the request has not yet been granted.

Pettipas noted housing starts in the municipality are down 30 per cent this year and said additional fees will force even more people to build outside the boundaries of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

"People will just move further out, drive here and really that defeats the purpose of what HRM is trying to do," he said.

City officials said they had an economic consultant look at the fees and they don't think it will scare away new housing construction.

Final approval will have to come from Halifax regional council.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.