Hearings that could affect the price of every home built in Halifax for the next 30 years opened Monday at the Utility and Review Board.

Halifax Water is seeking approval for a new regional development charge that ranges from $4,000 for each new apartment unit up to $6,000 per single home and town house.

“If Halifax Water does not have the revenues generated by a substantially increased development charge, the utility runs the risk of being unable to meet future demand for growth-related infrastructure,” Jamie Hannam of the utility told the UARB.

The new charge would triple the cost of the three existing charges it would replace.

Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre voiced his opposition.

“These proposed rates do not accurately reflect the cost of installing these services to new developments,” he told the hearing.

He said the flat rate wouldn't stop urban sprawl. “These charges are too low for low density single unit home developments and too high for multiple use dwellings.”

30-year assumptions challenged

Developers challenged the 30-year assumptions used to justify the new fee, including consumption rates, population growth and waste water production.

“Each one of those components that we talked about forms part of the formula that ultimately comes up with the final number the consumer will have to pay,” said Ben Young of the Urban Development Institute.

The industry says the new charge will be rolled into the price of new homes, which would also increase assessed values and property taxes.

“I think it’s prudent for the consumers to look at it and question it just like we’re questioning it. Are these costs really necessary?” asked Young.

The hearing will continue Tuesday. Four days have been set aside to hear the application.