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.