Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Metro Vancouver Water and Sewer Fees – Options to Reduce Future Increases

As I’ve posted about in the past, Langley City uses the water and sewer user fees you pay to maintain Langley City’s distribution and collection systems as well as to pay for regional district water and sewer services. About 50% of the water fee on your property tax (or City utility bill) goes to the Metro Vancouver Regional District, and about 40% of your sewer fee goes to the regional district.

The regional district must complete many significant projects over the decade. As a result, they expect the water fee they charge to municipalities to increase by 1.5 times and the sewer fee to double. Municipalities incorporate these costs into their water and sewer fees charged to residents and businesses.

Metro Vancouver Regional District major capital projects. Select the chart to enlarge.

About 60% of the proposed regional district water projects are to support population growth. For most growth projects, regional districts and municipalities collect development fees. Currently, the provincial government doesn’t allow the Metro Vancouver Regional District to collect development fees for water projects, but that is changing. The regional district can collect development fees for sewer projects, of which 38% are to support growth.

Approach to reducing fees between 2023-27. Select the chart to enlarge.

The regional district will be able to use increased developer fees to help offset some of the currently proposed increases in user fees. They will also be looking a what projects they can put off. They are doing this by doubling down on conservation efforts. For example, some municipalities have “leaky” sewer systems where rainwater and raw sewage get mixed. They are looking at wet weather pricing for sewers to encourage municipalities to fix this problem. The regional district is also looking at seasonal water pricing to promote conservation in low-rain months.

The regional district board has a Financial Plan Task Force, which is looking at options to align medium-term financial planning to reduce user fee increases.

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