City releases draft report on new water billing system

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Chernushenko says first proposal too ‘conceptual’

Jennifer McIntosh, Ottawa Community News

Changes to the way the city bills residents for drinking water, taking away sewage and stormwater won’t be a big drain on the average homeowner's finances, says the city's deputy treasurer Isabelle Jasmin.

The city released its draft report on a new water rate structure on Oct. 3.

For 85 per cent of residents, the new billing system will mean a $2 difference on their monthly bill, according to the city.

The report is the second wave of numbers in an effort to deal with flagging revenues and increasing costs in providing water and sewer services in the city.

The city's environment committee chair Coun. David Chernushenko said more than 800 people provided input on an initial report released back in the spring.

“We promised to take the feedback seriously and come up with a better report,” he said, adding the problem with the first effort was that it was too conceptual.

The sticking point for many of the city's rural residents is being charged despite being on their own well and septic systems. Ultimately they would be on the hook for $2 million under the rate structure change.

At a consultation meeting last spring, Chernushenko said there had to be a balance between a flat rate for everyone, and getting out to every property with a watering can and a metre to see how permeable their property is.

Rural homeowners flooded the consultations, with complaints about the proposal, asking for a more sophisticated system that took into account the different nature of their properties.

'It’s not going to fly'

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Some rural landowners unhappy with discounted stormwater services fee

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Giving rural landowners a 50-per-cent discount on stormwater fees won’t be enough for some residents who recoil at the thought of paying a new tax to city hall.

The city on Monday released an updated water rate and stormwater fee proposal, which gives landowners a break on stormwater service fees if they’re not connected to city water and sewer services. However, it still means landowners who don’t receive a water bill would have to contribute to the annual $42-million stormwater budget.

Bob Gregory, who owns 10 acres of land outside Dunrobin and has no ditches or culverts on his road, said at first he thought the scheme was an improvement from the first draft last winter. Then he looked at how much in stormwater fees each class of property would pay. He bristled at paying the same amount in stormwater fees as a townhouse and apartment landowner on city services.

“They try to mesmerize us with words and numbers,” Gregory said. “It’s outrageous. The end result is to charge us exactly the same as an urban resident.”

Landowners who don’t receive water and sewer bills would pay a new annual stormwater fee between $26 and $75 on their property tax bills under the proposed restructuring of the city’s billing scheme. The city is proposing to phase in the fee until 2020 to help those landowners slowly adjust.

The city says 32,400 residential properties and more than 5,800 industrial, commercial and institutional properties haven’t been paying for stormwater services since the 2001 amalgamation. Only landowners who receive a water and sewer bill have been paying for the city’s stormwater infrastructure. The city says those parts of Ottawa also benefit from stormwater services and should be forced to contribute to the stormwater budget.

Under the draft plan, single and semi-detached homes connected to water and sewer services would be charged $8.88 each month for stormwater services, which is considered the full rate. Homes in the urban area that aren’t connected to city water and sewer would pay $6.22 monthly, and those without connections in the rural area would pay $4.44 monthly. Agricultural and forested properties wouldn’t have to pay a stormwater fee.

If you conserve water, you could soon pay more under Ottawa's new flat rate

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New water billing system could roll out in early 2018

By Kate Porter, CBC News

A long-awaited report from City of Ottawa staff recommends changes to how the city charges for drinking water, takes away sewage, and deals with water from big storms.

While the city promises that most households will see hardly any change on their bills and those who use very little water will see their bills go up, those who consume a lot of water could pay less.

That's because the amount charged on water bills will no longer be based solely on how much water a home or business consumes.

The city wants to introduce a fixed cost to the bill because staff say, for the most part, the cost of operating and maintaining the water system doesn't vary with the amount of water used.

Staff also propose phasing in a storm water fee of about $27 to $53 per year on the property taxes of those who are on private wells and septic systems and don't pay water bills.