Sewer fee increases to jack up price of new homes

Increases for new development could add up to $5,000 to the price of a single family home: homebuilders

Fee increases are needed for new sewer infrastructure in greenfield development.

While elected governments at all levels are scrambling to control astronomical housing costs in the Lower Mainland, an unelected body is jacking up the price of new home and building construction through a utility hike of up to 111% in Vancouver and up top 230% in the Fraser Valley.

The Metro Vancouver regional district, an unelected body responsible for utilities like water and sewer, are set to increase sewer fees for new development, sparking an outcry from the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders Association (GVHBA) and Urban Development Institute (UDI).

The sewer charges for new development will increase  between 82% and 111%, depending on the building type, for Vancouver, and between 214% and 230% in the Fraser Valley, according to the UDI and GVHBA.

“The timing of this imposed stack of government charges on new homes couldn’t be worse,” said GVHBA CEO Bob de Wit.

De Wit said it is largely to pay for the new sewage infrastructure needed for greenfield development, especially in areas like Langley and North Surrey.

He doesn’t question the need for increased rates to pay for new infrastructure that will be required by new development. But they are coming all at once, and will be piled on top of other development cost charges and community amenity contributions are also being increased by a number of municipal governments.

Developers also assume additional charges could also be forthcoming from TransLink.

“The infrastructure that they’re wanting to build is critical,” de Wit said. “No one disagrees with that. It’s just with everything else that’s going on, imposing that large charge at the same time that other things are going up, it’s really going to hit the end buyer hard when it make its way through the system.”

De Wit said the sewer fee increases for new development will add up to $5,000 to the price of a new single family home, $4,000 for a townhouse and $3,500 for condos.

That’s the high range, he added. The increases would be less in areas like Vancouver.