Water rates are set to increase across Abbotsford.
Council approved a 3.75 per cent hike to water rates for residents and businesses Monday. The increase – which had been included in the city’s financial plan approved last fall – was opposed by Coun. Moe Gill, who suggested that rates shouldn’t go up as residents conserve water.
The cost of a cubic metre of water will rise from $1.19 to $1.24 for residential households. A discount is available for those who pay their bills on time. The increase is the second in a two-stage increase; residents saw an equal hike last year.
Peter Sparanese, the city’s general manager of engineering, said the city’s rates are competitive compared to other neighbouring municipalities, but an increase is needed to improve infrastructure.
“These fee rate increases that are being recommended are in order to catch up with some of our capital planning work that is necessary.”
He added that the rates are very “competitive” compared to neighbouring municipalities. The City of Langley bills $1.16 per cubic metre, along with a $75 fee; Mission charges residents $1.25/cubic metre; Maple Ridge charges 99 cents/cubic metre plus a variable base fee; Surrey charges 96 cents/cubic metremi; and Chilliwack currently bills 46 cents for a cubic metre.
Gill said he wouldn’t vote for the increase, given that the city has significantly lowered water consumption over the past decade.
“They’re not using as much [water] so we’re going and asking them to pay more?”
Mayor Henry Braun, though, said the increase was part of the city’s plan, which had been unanimously approved by council.
“I don’t remember any opposition at that time,” he said. “Everybody’s entitled to change their mind, but we approved this as part of the five-year financial plan.”
Coun. Ross Siemens concurred. He said while “nobody likes to increase water rates,” not sticking to a plan is “when you get yourself into trouble.” And he said he was satisfied with the explanations from staff about why the increase is necessary.