Water rates going higher

Water rates are going up across the board.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee decided, in principle, Thursday to hike water fees for domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural users.

“As unpalatable as they are, they reflect the costs being forced on to us,” said director Bob Fleming, referring to utility projects being dictated by the Interior Health Authority.

The annual base fee for agricultural customers is proposed to jump seven per cent or $65.54.

The annual base fee for domestic users is proposed to go up 24 per cent or $99.82 while the various consumption rates (ranging from zero to 80-plus cubic metres) could increase 20 per cent.

For non-domestic/mixed use (commercial, industrial, institutional), the anticipated base fee increase is 24 per cent and 30 per cent for the consumption levy.

There was considerable debate about how high rates should go, including about how businesses may leave town if they have to pay too much for water.

“Other jurisdictions could be far more attractive,” said director Maria Besso.

“The decisions we make impact long-term viability.”

There had been a push to increase agricultural rates substantially, but that met with resistance.

“We have to look at agricultural rates but we have to protect agriculture because it’s economic development,”  said director Mike Macnabb.

Agriculture water rates climbed three per cent in 2013.

Chairperson Juliette Cunningham believes the proposed water rates need to be put in perspective.

“When you compare the cost of (tap) water to bottled water, it is a lot less,” she said.


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