Sewer, water rate hikes expected

NANAIMO – Infrastructure upgrades needed over next 20 years to replace aging pipes.

ewer rate hikes are coming down the pipe in the new year.

The City of Nanaimo is bumping up sewer and water rates by a total 12.5 per cent beginning Jan. 1, increasing the average bill by just over $32.

According to Brian Clemens, the city’s director of finance, gaps were found last year between how much money was being spent annually for infrastructure replacement and how much was needed over the next two decades. The discovery prompted a new rate hike plan to soften the magnitude of future cost increases.

The changes include a 2.5 per cent hike in water fees on top of a five per cent hike already in place to cover new water services like the $65-million water treatment plant. Residents will also see a five-per cent annual increase for sewer until 2017 and a four-per cent increase for four years after that.

New increases are expected to help cover a $2 million gap in funding for water infrastructure and $500,000 for sewer.

“Our plan to close this gap includes staged user fee increases to build reserves that will earn interest, as well as a continuous review of project timing to ensure that infrastructure isn’t replaced until it is needed,” Clemens said.

Homeowners can also expect an increase on their garbage and recycling bill in the new year to cover new vehicles and higher tipping fees at the regional landfill. A $125.80 garbage bill is expected to rise by just over two per cent.

Those costs, however, are anticipated to be offset in May, when the city’s new agreement with Multi-Material British Columbia takes effect. The not-for-profit group of merchants and retailers, now mandated by the province to recycle what they produce, will pay the city $900,000 annually to continue curbside collection on its behalf. The new revenue is expected to save residents $34 on their garbage and recycling bills.