Water, sewer rates to rise six per cent

Burnaby Coun. Dan Johnston -
Burnaby Coun. Dan Johnston
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Burnaby taxpayers will see jumps in their utility bills after council approved six per cent increases in their water and sewer rates for 2013.

The six per cent water rate hike reflects a six per cent increase in what the Greater Vancouver Water District charges the city to supply water as well as the cost of replacing aging infrastructure and maintenance programs, said a city staff report.

Burnaby city hall sets its water rates to cover the cost of renewing infrastructure without having to borrow funds, it said.

The city's current priority is to replace its remaining asbestos cement watermains  which are at the end of their useful life, and the replacement of aging pumping stations to meet current and future demand due to the expected population growth over the next 10 years.

Burnaby's water rates have risen significantly in recent years, going up by 11 per cent in 2008, 12 per cent in 2009, 14 per cent in 2010, 11 per cent in 2011 and six per cent this year.

Coun. Dan Johnston, chair of the city's finance committee, said at Monday's council meeting that the jumps in water rates are partly to help pay for a new filtration plant in North Vancouver.

While there may be some debate over the need for such a plant, Johnston said, ultimately the federal government mandated it so Metro Vancouver had to build it.

For a single-family home, the utility bill will increase by $29.23 from $487.24 to $516.47, which includes a five per cent discount if payment is made by March 15.

The six per cent sewer rate hike is necessary to cover the cost of sewer maintenance, the higher costs of replacing aging infrastructure and a two per cent increase in what the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District charges the city for services including sewage treatment.

Burnaby's infrastructure work includes the continued separation of old combined-sewer-and-storm-sewer lines to prevent raw sewage from spilling into local waterways during heavy rainfalls.

City sewer rates have gone up by nine per cent in 2009, 8.5 per cent in 2010, 7.5 per cent in 2011 and six per cent in 2012.

For single-family homeowners, the sewer rates will go up by $27.51, to $486.02, and for people in multi-family homes the flat sewer use fee will increase by $14.90 to $263.25. Both figures include the five per cent discount if payment is made by March 15.

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