Input sought on changes to water bills, fees for stormwater

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How the city’s stormwater costs are divvied up among property owners is subject to the consultation.

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

The city has announced consultations on a new water bill structure, which could include a base fee.

Not enough money is coming into the coffers through water bills to pay for water, waste water and stormwater programs, so the city needs to find a new method to bill customers and feed the $316-million budget for the services.

Properties that receive water bills currently pay for the amount of water they use. The waste water and stormwater fee is charged at 117 per cent of the water consumption. The problem is, as water consumption shrinks, so does the revenue, but maintenance and staff expenses remain.

The city proposes to have a fixed cost on each water bill and the amount would depend on the size of the water meter. Another part of the bill would be tied to consumption, where high-volume users pay higher rates.

More than 45,000 properties are without water meters because they’re on private well and septic systems. That means they aren’t paying for infrastructure to handle stormwater run-off.

The city proposes to charge all residents and businesses a stormwater fee, but how the city’s stormwater costs are divvied up among property owners is subject to the consultation. For example, everyone could pay the same fee or the fee could be based on the property assessment. For residential properties, the fee could also depend on the type of home.

The consultations will happen between March 21 and April 7. The dates, times and locations are listed on the city’s website, along with more information about the proposed changes.

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Ottawa et les changements climatiques

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À VOUS LA PAROLE

David Chernushenko, Le Droit

La Ville d'Ottawa est prête à prendre des mesures audacieuses, mais nécessaires en matière de changements climatiques.

C'est pourquoi j'ai présenté une motion, adoptée par le comité de l'environnement, qui nous amènera à nous dépasser, à cheminer vers un avenir meilleur grâce à un objectif clair et ambitieux de protection du climat, et à arrimer nos efforts aux cibles provinciale, nationale et internationale.

Or, les défaitistes mettent en doute la pertinence d'établir des cibles ambitieuses lorsqu'un plan par étapes fait défaut. Parmi eux, le chroniqueur du Droit Patrick Duquette craint de voir la crédibilité d'Ottawa mise à mal dans le cas où elle raterait son objectif («Procéder à l'envers», 18 février). Nous devrions d'abord élaborer un plan d'action, croit-il, en fonction duquel nous fixerions une cible.

Mais pour atteindre une cible, il faut d'abord la définir. Au lieu de nous soucier de notre crédibilité future, nous devons agir maintenant afin d'éviter que l'évolution actuelle du climat ne donne lieu à une crise majeure entraînant d'importants coûts sociaux et économiques.

Deux manières

Il y a deux façons de faire de la politique. La première favorise l'établissement d'objectifs ambitieux qui poussent les citoyens à voir grand. La seconde préconise une succession de petites étapes réalisables s'inscrivant dans un plan de travail mesurable, où les objectifs sont cochés à mesure qu'ils sont atteints.

Il est tentant de croire que ces deux visions s'excluent mutuellement, mais en fait, on peut les conjuguer. C'est ce que ma motion reflète.

J'ai proposé qu'Ottawa réduise ses émissions de gaz à effet de serre de 80% d'ici 2050 par rapport aux émissions de 2012. Cet objectif est conforme à la cible provinciale et à l'intention de la communauté internationale de limiter le réchauffement planétaire à 1,5 °C.

Afin que nous atteignions cet objectif, je propose:

  • qu'Ottawa se joigne au Compact of Mayors, une initiative mondiale de lutte contre les changements climatiques à l'échelle locale, coordonnée par des réseaux de grandes villes;
  • que le président du comité de l'environnement travaille avec le groupe de travail interservices créé dans le cadre du Plan de gestion de la qualité de l'air et des changements climatiques de 2014 et avec des intervenants externes afin d'élaborer un plan détaillé de mise en oeuvre visant l'atteinte de notre cible;
  • que le personnel de la Ville évalue la possibilité d'élaborer et de mettre en place des normes sur la performance énergétique minimale des édifices résidentiels et commerciaux.

Nous sommes déjà en train de mettre en oeuvre notre plan d'action 2014. Adoptons maintenant une cible plus ambitieuse, qui servira de point de mire pour la prochaine génération d'idées novatrices destinées à protéger le climat de l'empreinte humaine tout en protégeant les résidents, les communautés et les économies d'un climat de plus en plus imprévisible.

L'auteur, David Chernushenko, est conseiller municipal du quartier Capitale, à Ottawa. Il est notamment président du comité de l'environnement.

Congestion Pricing Tools

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Councillor Chernushenko's motion on Congestion Pricing Tools does not propose a road toll. Rather, it proposes that the City of Ottawa study best practices in other jurisdictions regarding urban congestion and road pricing, in order to see if such market tools could be useful here.

Here is the actual text of the Notice of Motion:

City Council, Standing Committee and Commission

Committee / Commission: Transportation Committee

Report / Agenda: 12

Item / Article: Transportation Master Plan – Congestion Pricing Tools

Moved by: Councillor D. Chernushenko

WHEREAS the City of Ottawa has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at both the corporate and community level, while transportation alone accounts for 40% of community emissions; and

WHEREAS Transport Canada has found that government revenue from gas taxes, vehicle licences and other driver-related charges recovered only 53% of government expenses for roads across Canada during the 2009/2010 fiscal year; and

WHEREAS various types of congestion charges have been used effectively in cities around the world as a means of reducing urban congestion and encouraging a shift towards transit, carpooling, walking and cycling; and

WHEREAS Ottawa has a user-pay approach for public transportation and for water/sewer related infrastructure; and

WHEREAS there are some indications the Province may be willing to work with any municipality that wants to add tolls to existing roads under their jurisdiction as a means of meeting increased costs;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Transportation Committee recommend that staff be directed to undertake a study in conjunction with the next review of the Transportation Master Plan of different user-pay approaches as a means of reducing urban congestion and encouraging a modal shift away from private vehicle use as well as meeting the increased costs of maintaining City roads and ensure funding for the study is included in the appropriate draft budget; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT an analysis of the most feasible and effective options produced by this study be included for recommendation to Council as part of the next update to the Transportation Master Plan

Council puts road tolls on the transportation agenda

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Debate over road tolls is returning to city council. WAYNE CUDDINGTON / OTTAWA CITIZEN

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Road tolls could be part of the next transportation master plan if council agrees to study how fees could reduce traffic congestion and pay for maintenance.

Local politicians will turn their minds to road tolls next month because a downtown councillor wants the city to research the potential of charging motorists to use roads in Ottawa.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, the environment buff fresh off ushering through a new climate change policy at City Hall, wanted to drive through his proposal this week at the end of a transportation committee meeting, only to have the brakes applied by colleagues around the table. Instead, it will be up for discussion at a meeting in April.

The city should study how forcing motorists to pay user fees on municipal roads could reduce congestion and fund road maintenance, Chernushenko says. He suggests the information should inform the next transportation master plan, City Hall’s key blueprint for expanding road, transit, bike and pedestrian networks.

The committee meeting in April will be the first time councillors have a meaty discussion on tolls and there’s little doubt they’ll hear from residents on the issue. The city would need permission from the province to charge road fees, but green-lighting an $80,000 study would give council an idea about how tolls could work in Ottawa.