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Water shortage dries up Charlottetown housing developments

A Charlottetown developer has shelved plans to build eight new homes in West Royalty this fall because the City of Charlottetown says new subdivisions now have to be built with their own source of water.
A roofer works works on a new housing development. Some developers say they're worried Charlottetown's new water rules will run them out of business. (CBC)

A Charlottetown developer has shelved plans to build eight new homes in West Royalty after city council added new regulations in the face of a water supply shortage.

Warren Doiron has been building the Sandlewood subdivision for a decade, extending streets and adding new homes each year to satisfy demand.

Last spring, he applied to the city to create eight new lots this fall.

“They have told us we can do what we've been doing for the last few years except that they want us to put in a central water system, because the city hasn't had the foresight to foresee this, that we need water,” he said.

The city hasn't had the foresight to foresee this, that we need water.- Warren Doiron

Facing a severe water shortage, Charlottetown is telling developers they have to provide a sufficient water supply before building or expanding a subdivision. That includes wells, pump houses and water treatment systems like UV disinfection.

Doiron looked at the added costs, and decided to walk away.

“A minimum of $150,000 for eight lots, it's more than the cost of the lots,” he said.

Doiron said he could go out of business waiting for the city to secure more water.

Trying to protect the water supply

Coun. Rob Lantz said there are potentially more developments stalled over the new requirements.

“They're basically asking developers to install their own water and sewer utility. [That] could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to a subdivision project. I just don't see anyone moving ahead,” he said.

Lantz said it's a misguided way of protecting Charlottetown's water supply, because it only applies to subdivisions, and not the new, high-density construction on existing city lots.

“If the intent is to freeze the demand for water in the city, that's not happening. If these developers move to the inner city and develop on pre-approved lots the demand for water will continue to grow,” he said

Lantz said he'd like city council to revisit the requirements, which are supposed to be in place until a new source of water comes online in 2016.

Doiron has asked the city to reconsider his case.

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