Businesses along Shoppers Row – along with those in other areas of downtown – may like the idea of increased user fees for property owners, as the city tries to address infrastructure to alleviate flooding in the downtown core, which happens frequently during periods of heavy rain that correspond with high tides. Mirror File Photo

City raising user fees, will attempt to address downtown flooding

Residential users will see increases averaging 4.2 per cent over the next five years

City services such as garbage collection and water delivery are about to get more expensive again.

At its most recent meeting, council voted in favour of a staff recommendation to increase user fees for both commercial and residential property owners within city boundaries scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 2018 and continue to do so annually through 2022.

Residential users will see increases averaging 4.2 per cent over the next five years, including a 2.9 per cent increase for water, 3.5 per cent for sewer, 2.7 per cent for solid waste collection and an annual increase of $12 for storm water.

“This funding provides revenue to operate these systems, as well as maintain and upgrade core capital infrastructure including gradually increasing the sewer and pipe replacement program for aging infrastructure,” the recommendation says.

While property owners will likely take issue with the increases, downtown businesses may welcome the news, as a large portion of the increased city revenue will be used to increase the funding for the city’s storm water system, “which has been significantly under-funded for many years, which will allow required upgrades to be completed in the downtown and 16th Avenue areas where the city has faced ongoing localized flooding,” according to the report.

Businesses in certain areas of downtown are frequently hit with flooding when heavy rains occur at the same time as high tides. Just last year, Georgie’s Furniture and Fashion and other businesses reported huge financial losses due to flooding, which they blame largely on the city’s infrastructure not being able to drain water quickly enough during storms.

The frequent flooding has also delayed various downtown projects, such as the upgrades planned for Robert Ostler Park.

Alongside the 2.7 per cent increase coming for garbage collection, additional garbage tags used pay for additional cans to be picked up will also increase from $2 to $2.50 per tag, “to consider ongoing increases in solid waste tipping fees over the last four years,” the report says.