The City is holding public consultations on the Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure Review. I first mentioned this review in May 2015 and it has now evolved to the point where staff are bringing options forward for discussion. You have likely heard a lot about this over the last week from a variety of sources. The history on this file is important to remember as we proceed into a public comment period.
I want to clarify that this issue has nothing to do with whether or not someone is on a well and septic system. Nobody is proposing a tax on those two things.
This is strictly about stormwater runoff which impacts every property in one way or another. Some properties contribute more to the need for stormwater management than others. The review also looks at this factor and it is incorporated into the options which will be presented at the public consultation.
The background is that prior to amalgamation, Rideau and Goulbourn Townships assessed all stormwater drainage on the regular tax bill. Therefore, every single property owner paid for stormwater management on their tax bill. For reasons unbeknownst to any logical person, the transition board overseeing the amalgamation process chose to shift all stormwater costs from the tax bill to the sewer and water rate bill.
Since that time, all stormwater works in the rural area have been assessed only to those who pay water and sewer bills. This means that residents in Munster, Richmond and Hillside Gardens pay for something that residents in North Gower and Ashton do not.
The upcoming meeting will be an opportunity for residents to see how the City is proposing to address the issue. The big concern is how the City can ensure that balance is created on this issue without the negative optics of creating a new tax.
The crux of the situation is that the City spends $8M per year on stormwater works in the rural area and only those who receive a water and sewer bill pay for it. Like I said, prior to amalgamation, we all paid for it.
For example, the City is replacing the entire stormwater infrastructure in Kars this year to the tune of $2M. As it happens, through no fault of their own, nobody in Kars will actually pay directly for those works. However, the payments that residents in Munster who are on municipal services make will go toward the work in Kars.
One misconception that should be mentioned is the thought that this charge is only being discussed because the City needs money.
I will admit that the rate structure review on water and sewer bills has everything to do with the fact that the City is losing money each year on the delivery of that service.
However, the stormwater management issue is removed from that and is firmly focused on the principle that a property owner pays for the services they receive. This review looks into how could that work and how properties would be assessed.
I'm happy to discuss this further so please feel free to contact me directly if you have additional questions.
My only goal at this point is to get all of the facts out there and hope that the consultations are well attended. The consultations will be your opportunity to hear directly from City staff. We've made sure that each rural ward has a consultation meeting. Throughout the 19 urban wards, there will only be 3 meetings but we'll have four in the rural area.
The Rideau-Goulbourn meeting will be held on April 5th, beginning at 7:00pm, at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre in North Gower.
This location was chosen because it is somewhat central to the ward and is the largest and most accessible space available. I encourage everyone to attend. Strong attendance at these meetings sends a strong message.
If you would like to read more about this issue, please visit Ottawa.ca.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491.