'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.

Signs of progress

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By David Chernushenko

Some days you have to pause to admire the signs of progress in the world around you, or at least in your corner of the city. This morning I had one of those stop-and-smell-the-roses moments:

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Bike paths were full, and the bikparking spaces at City Hall (top) and Lisgar Collegiate and  were overflowing.

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Solar panels were generating at full capacity, at City Hall and the more than a thousand rooftops across the city. More solar rooftop installatons on City facilities are in the works.

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Electric vehicles were making full use of the charging station at City Hall and new charging stations are coming soon in strategic locations across Ottawa

While I continue working with hundreds of partners across the city on our renewable energy transitions strategy — Energy Evolution— it is clear that such an evolution is underway. The time to go big is at hand.

Ottawa gets green with solar energy project

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Eight municipal buildings now equipped with solar panels.

Solar panels in place atop the city's François Dupuis Recreation Centre.

By Evelyn Harford, Metro

The sun has risen on a new solar project between the city and Energy Ottawa.

Energy Ottawa, a subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa, announced their installation of solar panels on eight city buildings Wednesday as part of a large-scale solar energy project.

The large-scale installation came after the success of the 2010 pilot project, where smaller solar systems installed at city hall and one other building. Hydro Ottawa said the renewable energy generated from the panels would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 41,382 metric tonnes over the 20-year-term.

The eight solar systems on city buildings is the first large-scale solar project for the city, said Bryce Conrad, president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa.

The energy produced from the panels is equivalent to removing 300 homes from the grid each year and city is expected to receive $1.7 million dollars over 20 years from the project, said Hydro Ottawa.

Mayor Jim Watson said the city’s revenues would come from the rental costs of the roofs.

Watson said this partnership between Energy Ottawa and the city is only the beginning.

The ultimate goal is put solar panels on all city buildings, that can accommodate the panels, as long as it makes financial sense – and so far, it does, he said.

“Installing solar panels on municipal buildings just makes sense.”

Conrad said the cost of solar has reduced dramatically, which is why cities like Ottawa are able to have large-scale solar projects like this.

When the panels become more affordable solar projects will become more widespread, said Conrad, who added that the province has foot the bill for this project.

Watson said the city has made a commitment to green energy and will continue to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint – so long as it’s in the budget.