City limits 2022 utility rate changes
09 November 2021
The City of Richmond has endorsed limiting rate charges for key utilities in 2022 while maintaining important infrastructure, despite increases from Metro Vancouver.
Richmond City Council supported staff recommendations at last night’s Council meeting to minimize increases for water, sewer and solid waste, while still making important investments in flood protection. This reinforced efforts made by the City – and Council’s commitment – to keep utility rates as low as possible despite external cost pressures.
Metro Vancouver recently announced a 4.1 per cent rate hike for water and a 4.4 per cent jump in sewer costs for the coming year. Metro Vancouver fees currently account for 56 per cent of Richmond’s water budget and 66 per cent of its sewer budget. Solid waste costs are also rising, with Metro Vancouver increasing the per tonne rate by 3.3 per cent in 2022.
Absorbing these costs through sound fiscal management such as the targeted use of rate stabilization funds will help reduce the impact of future increases on residents and businesses through rate levelling. Metro Vancouver has increased water rates by 189 per cent since 2006, notably higher than the City’s water utility rates that have risen by less than a quarter of that during the same period. Increases in Metro Vancouver costs are a primary budget driver for water utility rates.
Sewer costs are also increasing, with Metro Vancouver costs climbing from 53 per cent of the City’s sewer utility rate in 2006 to 66 per cent in 2022. Its operating and maintenance sewer levy has risen by 172 per cent since 2006, almost three times that of the City during the same period. Council supported removing the use of existing stabilization funds for 2022, in order to preserve the funds to offset greater Metro Vancouver cost increases projected in future years.
The Metro Vancouver regional tipping fee for municipalities will jump four dollars to $121 per tonne in 2022. Increases in waste management contracts and costs associated with the external handling and disposal of recycled and other materials will see waste costs rise. The City will continue to roll out the Single-Use Plastics Bylaw, undertake a review of commercial recycling practices and implement two new initiatives – a grease collection pilot program and a trial of a water-based trash collection device. These two projects will use provision funding so as not to impact residents, and the City hopes they will demonstrate opportunities for future cost savings as well as obvious environmental benefits.
Water, sewer, solid waste and recycling, and flood protection services and infrastructure are fundamental to the quality of life for residents and support our local economy. Richmond utility fees now represent approximately 15 per cent of total average daily household expenses and remain among the lowest in the region.
Demands for high quality drinking water and sewer treatment will further increase regional costs. However, the City continues to look for ways to offset those costs in order to reduce the direct impact on property owners.
One example is the implementation of water meters, which has reduced the City’s water use by 12 per cent since their introduction in 2003 despite population growth of 26 per cent over the same period. Almost 85 per cent of the City’s water use is now on meters, bringing annual savings of close to $12 million in purchase costs due to the added awareness and monitoring of water consumption resulting in less waste.
Council gave the 2022 utility budgets and rates First, Second and Third Reading at last night’s meeting, with Final Reading anticipated for November 22.