Have You Looked At Your Water Bill Lately?

We reported previously on the City’s new fee structure, cautioning that the new tiered approach might be bad news for condominiums (click here to access our previous blog).

The new billing structure has been in place for approximately five months now, and as far as we can tell, our fears for condominium corporations were well founded.

The rate charged for the consumption of water (that is, drinking water and related wastewater charges) depends on how much you use. The tiers are set out on the City’s website as follows:

Tier Volume Water  Wastewater Combined
Tier 1 up to 6m3 $0.81 $0.71 $1.52
Tier 2 >6 m3 – 25m3 $1.60 $1.42 $3.02
Tier 3 >25m3 – 180m3 $1.77 $1.57 $3.34
Tier 4 >180m3 $1.97 $1.76 $3.73

The goal of this tiered system is to encourage water conservation. You pay less if you use less, and new annual fixed fees make up the difference in the City’s revenue.

The following chart, copied from a 2016 Report of the Environment Committee , is helpful to show how the rate changed [using figures proposed in 2016]:

 

Rate Structure

Water

($)

Wastewater

($)

Total

($)

Current Uniform Rate (per cubic meter) [2016] 1.801 1.571 3.372
Proposed Inclining Block Rate:
Tier 1 (0 – 6 cubic meter) 0.721 0.624 1.345
Tier 2 (6 – 25 cubic meter) 1.441 1.248 2.689
Tier 3 (25 – 180 cubic meter) 1.586 1.373 2.959
Tier 4 (>180 cubic meter) 1.768 1.545 3.313

The problem, for condominiums, is that the consumption used to determine the applicable rate is often taken from one or more bulk meters. As a result, even if units are individually using less, you are likely still paying more per cubic meter (or kilo liter) than your freehold neighbours because combined, you are likely to fall into a higher tier.

So, check your water bill and find out. Are you paying more for using less? If so, this might be worth raising with your local member of municipal council!

But it’s not all bad… the new stormwater fee, a fixed fee applied to all accounts, is cut in half for townhomes and apartments. Instead of paying $128 annually, you pay $64 in an urban, connected property.

We are left wondering, however: Does the break on this stormwater fee make up for paying a higher rate for domestic water consumption? Or should the condominium sector be calling for change?

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments in condominium law!

 

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