Councillor blasts ‘disingenuous’ storm water rate hike – Ottawa

An Ottawa city councillor says he — and the rural residents he represents — have been “blindsided” by drastic annual increases to a newly introduced storm water fee.

The city devised a new fee system for water and sewer services last year in an effort to raise more money to maintain the system, a bill that’s estimated to rise to $22.6 billion over the next decade.

Until now, rural residents with private wells and septic systems haven’t paid for storm water service, but that will change starting in 2018.

Projected annual rate increases tabled at Tuesday’s meeting of the environment and climate protection committee show residents will pay as much as 13 per cent more each year for storm water service over the coming decade. The city expects to reap an additional $50.3 million in revenue next year, and an extra $134 million by 2027. 

Those figures include inflation.

City ‘disingenuous,’ councillor claims

But Coun. Scott Moffatt, who represents the rural ward of Rideau-Goulbourn, said the city wasn’t upfront about the increases when it introduced the plan last year.

“I think it’s disingenuous that we created a new fee and came back several months later with a report that projects … that fee will be increased by 270 per cent,” Moffatt said, referring to the increase in projected revenue from wastewater by 2027.

‘We didn’t lie to people, but we certainly didn’t tell them the whole story. It lacked transparency.’
– Coun. Scott Moffatt

Storm water fees, which rural residents will now pay, are projected to rise much more dramatically than other water services, which they will not. 

The average combined rate increase for water, wastewater and storm water will be 5.2 per cent each year for the next five years, and 4.4 per cent for each of the following five years.

The 2018 increase will mean an extra $3.50 for the average urban homeowner, according to deputy treasurer Isabelle Jasmin.

By comparison, the storm water fees alone are projected to rise at more than double those rates, with the typical detached rural home looking at a bill of $55.64 by 2027.

Moffatt said that’s a big difference.

“There’s not a single budget in the City of Ottawa that I know of that’s going to increase by [that rate] over the course of 10 years,” he said.

This chart shows the projected annual rate increase for all water services in the city over the next 10 years. (City of Ottawa )

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