The cost of municipal water and sewer services is on the rise across Muskoka.
During the reports from committee portion of the June 20 District council meeting, Councillor Phil Harding reported on a joint engineering and public works and corporate services committee meeting held on May 30, which he chaired.
Harding noted that committee heard a presentation by Hemson Consulting Ltd., hired by the District of Muskoka to undergo one of several growth-related studies.
“After the presentation and discussion, committee is recommending to council today a rolling five-year increase equal to 2.5 per cent annually for water and 3 per cent annually for wastewater,” Harding told council. “Due to continued financial hardships of COVID, committee is also recommending a further delay and extension to January 31, 2023 for implementation of our mandatory connection bylaw,” he added. “It should be noted however that since the start, and our most recent efforts in updating our mandatory connection bylaw, we now have a 61 per cent compliance rate, which is great news.”
District water and sewer rates are among the highest in the province. Municipal representatives have continually pointed at Muskoka’s expansive geography, and the fact that there are nine drinking water facilities, and eight wastewater (sewer) facilities to operate and maintain as well as nine septage lagoons (according to its website), as the challenge.
The District charges for the service through a fixed charge, a consumption charge as well as a tax levy.
Among the consultant’s summary of key findings, rate increases are required to continue to meet operating and capital obligations.
It also concluded that the current capital reserve levels are low and could represent a financial risk for the District over the short term in order to carry out critical repair and replacement work without continued rate increases.
You can find the consultant’s report here.
Harding also gave council a summary of the District’s core infrastructure, as it pertains to water and sewer services, he said the District operates 318 kilometres of wastewater sewers and associated treatment plants, with a total cost of about $620 million dollars. “We have 361 kilometres of water mains and associated reservoirs and plants for a total cost of $572 million.”
Council approved committee’s recommendation. The recommendations related to rate increases are expected to form part of the District’s 2023 budget.
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