Council considers more equitable utility rates bylaw

·3 min read

At municipal council’s committee of the whole meeting on July 13, members started a discussion on the utility rates bylaw.

Administration’s recommendations for the committee were that the committee recommend council approve the utility rate model with the following component changes as presented: base system access, tiered consumption and infrastructure replacement.

Administration also recommended that committee direct administration to present a multiyear recommendation for utility rates based on the approved utility rate model at the 2022 budget presentation.

This report arose from a discussion that came out of a council’s strategic practices session earlier in the year.

There have been discussions at the council table for years considering changes to the water and sewer rates model to more equally distribute the cost of providing services.

CAO Bill Given stated that council saw that as a strategic priority for this term.

Administration presented committee with a concept of a model that would set out a fee structure based on the three different categories.

“Administration is not recommended that council change the rate for the 2021 year,” Given said.

“We are recommending that if council likes the model that you should give us direction to develop the 2022 rate recommendation in alignment with the model.”

This council would develop a model and the next council would receive a recommendation on what the rates should be.

“Every single connection in the community is essential, and everyone needs to pay their share of the base cost,” said Coun. Paul Butler.

Coun. Rico Damota said members of council should participate in a public engagement process when it comes to the finalization.

Administration was proposing a tiered approach that is tied to the consumption rather than tied to the class of property.

“Would we be taken into factor that some properties have older units, where by refrigeration, for example, the water is not used, it’s simply disposed of, so that the cost of water now becomes an incentive to update their equipment?” asked Coun. Bert Journault.

“It is an associated benefit,” Given replied.

Administration stated that breaking up the utility rates into the three parts—base system access, tiered consumption and infrastructure replacement—is the most transparent approach for users to understand the costs.

Mayor Richard Ireland made a motion that committee recommend that council approve the utility rate model as presented.

Coun. Paul Butler suggested to change the motion to state that committee direct administration to develop a draft a utility rate model with the following component charges as presented.

Committee then changed Mayor Ireland’s motion to say “a utility rate model” instead of “the utility rate model.”

Committee then voted on that motion with all in favour.

Ireland then moved that committee direct administration to bring forward a report discussing the implications of the relative weighting between the three utility rate components.

This motion was carried unanimously.

Council also decided to resume in-person meetings starting next week.

Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh

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