City to present stormwater user fee recommendation at December 2 open house
The City has arrived at a recommendation to address Guelph’s underfunded stormwater system. Following more than two years of study and community consultation City staff plans to recommend a stormwater user fee.
“Faced with the challenges of aging infrastructure, increases in hard surfaces from urban growth, and more severe storm events, many cities, including Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Waterloo and Kitchener, have moved to a fee model to address funding challenges,” said Arun Hindupur, Infrastructure Planning Engineer for the City. “The fee model we’re proposing is a balance between fairness, equity and ease of administration.”
The proposed fee model, called the Equivalent Residential Unit model, was selected because it provides the best balance between fairness to property owners and administrative costs for the City. Under this model, properties are categorized into residential and non-residential. Owners of residential units (i.e. condos/apartments, townhouses, detached homes) would pay the same amount; non-residential unit owners would pay an amount proportional to the amount of hard surfaces on a property such as pavement, rooftops, and concrete.
A user fee would introduce a funding shift for the management of the stormwater system from the current property tax funding model.
“The plan is to bring our recommendation to Council for approval early next year, and then spend time throughout 2016 developing an implementation strategy,” remarked Hindupur. “We’ll formalize the fee calculations, determine the implementation timeline, and look at the possibility of credit programs for property owners who make changes to their properties to reduce runoff.”
Guelph’s stormwater system needs upgrades and repairs
“Managing stormwater protects our community—our people, our homes and businesses, and our environment,” noted Hindupur. “Stormwater systems help prevent flooding and reduce pollution in our local rivers. Despite the critical importance of this system, stormwater infrastructure in Guelph is currently funded at less than half of the estimated sustainable amount.”
Stormwater systems include all the drains, pipes and ponds that carry or hold rain, melting snow and property runoff. In 2012, the City’s stormwater management system received a failing grade (F) in the Sustainable Infrastructure Report and Infrastructure Scorecard. The report showed that Guelph’s stormwater drainage system was underfunded by $4.1 million. That report drove the City to begin the stormwater funding study in August 2013.
Open house Wednesday, December 2
Staff will present the fee recommendation at a public open house on Wednesday, December 2 at City Hall, 6:30–8:30 p.m. The open house will provide an opportunity for community members to learn about the study and get details on the funding recommendation. It will include a formal presentation at 7:30 p.m. followed by a question and answer session. There will also be an opportunity to submit written comments that will become part of the public record.
“We understand this is not a simple change and we want people to understand how a stormwater user fee would affect them,” said Hindupur. “We encourage people to come talk to us to learn how the fee would be calculated and ask questions about our stormwater system.”
For more details about the study, visit guelph.ca/swfunding