Monday, October 26, 2020

Metro Vancouver Regional District eyeing increased summer water rates to reduce peak utilization

Water and sewer charges are a large component of the municipal-controlled portion of property tax.

Most municipalities in our region, including Langley City, purchase their water from the Metro Vancouver Regional District. Municipalities pay a volume charge to the Regional District for sewer services. Municipalities are responsible for the delivery of water and sewer between business/residential properties and regional mains.

The utility fees that are included in property tax are a combination of the municipal and regional costs to provide water and sewer services.

I virtually attended the Metro Vancouver Regional District Council of Councils meeting on Saturday. Regional District staff and directors presented an overview of their proposed 2020-24 financial plan. The renewal and replacement of outdated wastewater treatment plants, and the expansion of the regional water supply system to meet increased demand, are causing significant increases to the water and sewer rates charged to municipalities.

The Regional District board has been looking for ways to provide short-term financial relief to property taxpayers. One of the major projects that will likely be deferred as a result of finding short-term relief is the Coquitlam Lake Water Supply Project. This means that the region will have to double down on water conservation efforts.

Currently, the Regional District charges a summer and winter water rate to municipalities. The Regional District is looking into increase the summer water rate charged to municipalities.

Langley City has water meters on all properties, municipalities like Surrey do not. The increase in summer water rates might encourage municipalities throughout the region to install water meters on all properties.

It might also result in municipalities charging a summer and winter water rate to property owners. In Langley City, there is a base water charge and year-round meter rate.

The idea is to nudge municipalities to invest in water conservation programs and encourage people to use less water during the summer months.

Metro Vancouver Regional District staff noted at the Council of Councils meeting that our region uses more water per capita than other large regions in North America. We can do better as a region to reduce water utilization which will help reduce increases in property tax.

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