The water rates are rising: Port Coquitlam councillor warns of ‘massive increases’ in the near future

Port Coquitlam residents can expect to pay about $17 more for water and sewer this year, following Port Coquitlam council’s unanimous approval of new rates at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The rates add up to $837.04 for single-family homes – a bump of $16.89 from 2021. Townhouse occupants will be charged $784 while apartments will face a charge of $744.

Overall, the water rates are up 2.11 percent while sewer rates inched up 1.98 percent over 2021 rates. The major factors driving the increase are the higher costs of buying water from Metro Vancouver, as well as getting rid of it.

The rates for 2022 may be a prelude for “massive increases” in future years, according to Coun. Steve Darling.

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Costs to spike

Metro Vancouver has projected a 4.1 percent increase to water rates and a 4.6 percent increase to sewer rates for 2022. However, both those numbers are expected to rise in 2023, with Metro Vancouver estimating a six percent increase in water rates and a 17 percent jump in sewer rates.

While Metro Vancouver has previously come in under their forecasts, staff at the regional authority indicated there are hard costs that simply can’t be outrun, Mayor Brad West explained.

“The era of deferral is coming to an end,” West said, noting billion-dollar wastewater treatment plants on the North Shore and Iona Island.

Charging ahead

Council should take an in-depth look at metered water rates, according to Coun. Darrell Penner.

While the city’s residential units pay a flat rate, commercial units are metered and pay based on usage. However, businesses that use the most water end up paying a substantially lower rate than less water-intensive businesses.

Businesses that use more than 19,500 cubic feet of water end up paying $2.73 per cubic foot. Businesses that use between 1,500 and 4,500 cubic feet of water pay $5.39 per cubic foot.

“This doesn’t really look like we’re trying to conserve any water,” Penner said, noting he’d previously suggested the discrepancy required further examination.

Council is set to discuss the issue before the summer.

While he wasn’t averse to further discussion, Coun. Dean Washington said that many major water users pay a lot in other ways.

“If you look at some of the big water users, they produce many of the jobs in this city,” Washington said.

The 2022 rates also include a waiver for low-income seniors based on the 2020 Revenue Canada Notice of Assessment.

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