After a lengthy and often confusing debate, Sudbury city council voted Tuesday night to freeze development charges for the next two years.

Councillors struggled to find a way to fill city coffers, without hurting the real estate industry. This will mean a hit of about $3 million for city bank accounts.

But Mayor Marianne Matichuk said the development charges are only paid if a new home or business is actually built.

“You know, for a couple of thousand dollars, if that's going to stop someone from building a house, that really really concerns me,” she said.

The city's homebuilders association had been lobbying for a total freeze on the fees for the next 5 years. 

City councillor Ron Dupuis argued that developers already pay their fair share to the city, and that hiking the fees paid by builders could further slow down the local housing market.

"The bottom line is, the developers are not getting rich off of this."

Dupuis wanted to freeze the development fees for the next 3 years, even if it meant hiking property tax rates instead.

But the majority of councillors voted to go with the two-year freeze instead, and then phase in the increase over the next few years.

Coun. Terry Kett said the city needs the money to pay for basic services like roads, sewers and parks.

"So it comes down, in my way of looking at it, to what can we afford as a council."