‘It’s going to have a huge impact”; Regina business owners react to planned water rate increase

Regina business owners react to planned water rate increase
WATCH ABOVE: On Jan. 12, the city released its proposed operating budget. It includes two five per cent increases for water in ten months. It may seem slight for some but for many Regina businesses, the increase will be dramatic. David Baxter has more on how they're bracing for the change.

The City of Regina released its proposed budget on Thursday, which includes two five per cent utility rate increases for water. The first is scheduled to take effect on March 1, followed by one on Jan. 1, 2018.

It is estimated that the average residential bill will go up $7.52 with the first increase, but some Regina businesses are bracing for a bigger bill.

Nicole Dumelie owns Salon 306 and said that water is constantly running for maintain her operation. This includes washing hair, sterilizing equipment, and laundry.

“It’s going to have a huge impact,” she said.

Dumelie’s water bill is factored into her rent, and she estimates it is $1,800 per month. On Friday, she received an invoice from her landlord for $3,491 to cover the remainder of her annual water costs.

Story continues below advertisement

Now she plans to talk to the city about concerns she has with the proposed increases.

“We’re open 12 hours a day, and an increase of 10 per cent is huge for a small business,” Dumelie said.

At this point, she anticipates that she will just have to absorb the cost of the new water bills.

“We can’t keep increasing the rate of our services,” she said.

“You can only do so much hair to cover the cost, you can only be booked so much to cover the costs so this is going to have a huge impact on our business.”

Larger businesses are preparing for the utility increase as well.

Double Tree Hotel marketing director Rick Fraser said that water is a major expense. This primarily comes from their four industrial-sized washing machines.

Just like at Salon 306, Fraser said laundry is a continuous operation at the hotel.

“I don’t think you’ll find any business that’s happy when rates go up, but you’ve also got to balance that with the cost of having a quality source of water for the city,” Fraser said.

The laundry room at Regina’s Double Tree hotel.
The laundry room at Regina’s Double Tree hotel. Kael Donnelly / Global News

On Thursday, city manager Chris Holden said that the increase in water fees is to help pay for maintenance at the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant.

Story continues below advertisement

The plant is located 50 kilometres east of Regina, which adds to the cost of delivering water to customers. Buffalo Pound is a non-profit facility that operates on a cost-recovery basis.

Fraser said the Double Tree will look into measures to reduce water usage in an effort to save on their water bill. This will supplement other initiatives they’ve implemented, such as no longer using table clothes on banquet serving tables.

“We’ve moved to a nice aluminum brush table, which cuts down significantly, and we’ve introduced a Go Green Program for our guests where we incentivize guests so they asks us to not redo the linens and towels every day,” Fraser explained.

City council will vote on the water increases and the rest of the budget on Feb. 13.