GUELPH CITY COUNCIL
Guelph City Council approved a staff recommendation for a dedicated stormwater user fee by a vote of 11 to 2 at Monday night’s Council meeting.
The introduction of a user fee is a shift from funding Guelph’s stormwater management system through property taxes.
The fee model proposed was selected to provide a balance between fairness, equity and ease of administration.
The recommendation from staff was made following more than two years of study and community consultation.
“Like many other municipalities, Guelph is faced with the problem of aging infrastructure and our stormwater management system needs upgrades, especially as we face more severe storm events,” said Arun Hindupur, Infrastructure Planning Engineer for the City. “Many cities, including Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Waterloo and Kitchener, have already moved to a fee model to address funding challenges.”
The proposed fee model, called the Equivalent Residential Unit model, categorizes properties as residential and non-residential.
Owners of residential units (i.e. condos/apartments, townhouses, detached homes) pay the same amount; non-residential unit owners pay an amount proportional to the area of hard surfaces on a property such as pavement, rooftops, and concrete.
“Now that we have Council approval to transition to a user fee model for stormwater management funding we’ll begin work on a plan to roll the fee out,” noted Hindupur. “This includes formalizing fee calculations, determining the rollout timelines, and developing a credit program for property owners who make changes to their properties to reduce runoff.”
Guelph’s stormwater system needs upgrades and repairs
“Managing stormwater protects our community—our people, our homes and businesses, and our environment,” noted Hindupur. “Stormwater systems help prevent flooding and reduce pollution in our local rivers. Despite the critical importance of this system, stormwater infrastructure in Guelph is currently funded at less than half of the estimated sustainable amount.”
Stormwater systems include all the drains, pipes and ponds that carry or hold rain, melting snow and property runoff.
In 2012, the City’s stormwater management system received a failing grade (F) in the Sustainable Infrastructure Report and Infrastructure Scorecard.
The report showed that Guelph’s stormwater drainage system was underfunded by $4.1 million a year.
That report drove the City to begin the stormwater funding study in August 2013. For more details about the study, visit guelph.ca/swfunding.