Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Metro Vancouver reaffirms utility markup for non-members

As I posted about in July, things are starting to heat up between the Township of Langley and Metro Vancouver. Metro Vancouver is suing the Township of Langley to prevent the Township from implementing the full University District plan. When news of the legal action broke last year, some Township Councillors mused about leaving Metro Vancouver and joining the Fraser Valley Regional District. As Metro Vancouver’s action against the Township winds its way through court, I’m sure there will be renewed chatter about leaving the region.

Metro Vancouver provides many important services to the Township of Langley with two of the major services being water and sewer. Metro Vancouver provides a good value for the services it provides. For example, water rates in the South of Fraser can be around 50% less expensive than places like Abbotsford. Some of the savvy councillors know this. Like the Quebec Separatist who wants to leave Canada, but keep all the services the country provides, some Township Councillors want to be removed from Metro Vancouver’s regional planning regulations, but keep all the service the region provides. This make sense as the Township has spent or plans to spend close to $50 million connecting eastern Langley (including Aldergrove) to Metro Vancouver’s water and sewer network. Western Langley is already connected to Metro Vancouver.

While I think it is highly unlikely that the Township of Langley will leave Metro Vancouver, if for some reason it was allowed to join the Fraser Valley Regional District, the prices of water and sewer service would go up at least 20%. I wouldn’t want to explain that to citizens if I was a councillor.

When UBC (ironically as it has the School of Community and Regional Planning) had issues with regional planning as it applied to its Point Grey campus, it complained to the province. The province removed the Point Grey campus from the regional district. As a result, UBC pays a 30% markup for water and the University Endowment Lands pays a 20% markup. In June, the Metro Vancouver Utility Committee heard a request to lower the markup for non-Metro Vancouver members like the UEL. This request was denied.

While some people might have issues with regional planning in Metro Vancouver, being a part of the biggest (population and resources) regional district comes with many benefits including as lower property tax bill for utilities.

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