The Brantford Home Builders' Association is pushing for a new development charges bylaw to be put on hold.
The group's membership sent a letter addressed to Brantford Mayor Chris Friel and city councillors earlier this month asking for the city's master servicing plan and transportation master plan – along with proper public consultation for both – to be completed before the publication of the development charges background study.
The plans identify the city's infrastructure needs, which are then used to form a portion of the development charges rates.
"(The plans) should come first," said BHBA president Rob Melick at a development charge public information session held last Thursday at the TB Costain-SC Johnson Community Centre.
City staff and representatives from Hemson Consulting, the company the city hired to undertake the study, were on hand to present new information and field any questions or concerns from the public.
Melick commended the city for undertaking the plans and the development charges study at the same time, but stressed the importance of knowing what projects were going to be included in the plans because of how they could affect the new rates.
He told Brant News that only projects that are actually going to happen should be included – questioning whether "controversial" projects such as a new downtown parking garage and the completion of Veterans Memorial Parkway will actually occur during the bylaw's five-year lifespan.
While Melick said the BHBA appreciates council's position that development should pay for itself, the members worry about development charges rising because of the impact on homebuyers.
In Brantford, development charges fund infrastructure and services such as roads, water, wastewater, fire, police, library, recreation, transit, parking, ambulance and public works buildings and fleet.
Development charges vary depending on the type of unit. Currently the standard development charge for a single, semi-detached unit in Brantford is $15,062. If the proposed residential rates shown at Thursday's session were implemented, that number could increase to $19,700 – a jump of $4,638.
The proposed rates can be adjusted by city council, but they represent the maximum charges that Hemson would be prepared to defend, said consultant James Bevan.
"We're in line with what we see in other municipalities as well," he said.
The city's current bylaw is set to expire on May 4, 2014.
As part of the process, the city must hold one statutory public meeting, which is scheduled for April 8.