Water bills to rise 4.5% in 2021, garbage fees going up too

·2 min read

Ottawa residents can expect their water bills to go up 4.5 per cent on average next year, and to pay an extra $10 — or more — for garbage pickup.

On Tuesday, councillors on the city committee responsible for water and waste approved their part of the 2021 draft budget, which now goes to full council Dec. 9.

The average household that consumes 180 cubic metres of water will pay an extra $37 in 2021, bringing their bill to $143 every two months after rates rise April 1. Overall, the city expects to spend $440 million next year on sewer and water.

Many residents are working from home during the pandemic, but city staff don't expect a major change in the volume of water consumed because it's offset by lower water use in offices and businesses.

It's been more than a year since the city introduced a new billing method for water that includes a fixed rate, giving it more predictable revenue to cover infrastructure costs.

Aging pipes need replacing

Ottawa has aging pipes to replace, such as the century-old water main under Elgin Street that was recently removed during that street's "big dig," said Steve Willis, the city's general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development.

"Some of the infrastructure that was built in the rapid era of post-war growth wasn't built quite as durably as that early city infrastructure was, and it needs replacement at the same time," said Willis. "We are spending a lot of money right now renewing those assets."

Michel Aspirot/CBC
Michel Aspirot/CBC

The City of Ottawa sees spending $1.1 billion on sewer and water infrastructure over the coming years. The $218 million in 2021 includes:

  • $17.4 million to repair sewage pumping stations.

  • $14.8 million to replace and fix culverts.

  • $12.7 million to upgrades the Britannia and Lemieux Island water purification plants.

As for garbage and recycling, the solid waste fee on 2021 property tax bills will rise $10 to $106 for single-family homes that receive curbside collection. Multi-residential households will see that fee rise to $71.50, up $15 over 2020 and up $28.50 from just two years ago.

Four dollars from those fees go toward $18.4 million being spent at the Trail Road landfill, both to capture greenhouse gases and to cap and cover parts of the dump.