Ouch! Calgarians could be hit with huge utility price hike

CALGARY- Calgarians could see a huge spike in their utility bills, as city council looks for ways to trim the budget.

On Monday, council got a look at proposed rate hikes, which could see water and waste water services jump $84 each per year, over the next four years. Drainage fees are also set to double by 2018, resulting in a $500 per year hike on the average utility bill.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi blames new communities for taxing the system.

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“As a result, the water and waste water rates have gone up to pay off that debt which is $1.5 billion dollars,” he explained. “Council, a few years ago, started charging developers half of the total cost. That is what is I sometimes call the ‘sprawl subsidy.’”

Ward 1 councillor Ward Sutherland says the city’s hands are tied, when it comes to getting more money from developers.

“Unfortunately those numbers right now look scary, and they are ugly,” he says. “Nothing has happened the last ten years to prepare for it.”

Calgarians complain it’s become more expensive than ever to live in the city.

“Anybody who lives in Calgary knows it’s not affordable,” says Roxie Laverty. “Yes, we sometimes have our little indulgences, but overall it’s a pretty pricey place to live.”

Some councillors want utility increases to be factored into the proposed tax hike of 5.2 per cent, when it goes to a vote this November.

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