The average Hamilton homeowner will pay another $32 next year for water and wastewater services.
City councillors have given preliminary approval to a 4.28-per cent increase to the rate budget in 2021.
The hike, which still needs final approval at a future meeting of Hamilton City Council, works out to an average residential bill of $784.80 next year, up from $752.60 in 2020.
The increase will help finance an expected $2.5 billion in capital water and wastewater infrastructure projects over the next decade.
Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark remains concerned about affordability for residents in light of the pandemic, but he’s spoken in support of the increase citing the Chedoke Creek spill and a need for system-wide infrastructure improvements.
“I am still cognizant and paying attention very carefully to the impacts” on taxpayers, said Clark, “but there is justification for the 4.28 per cent.”
City staff, in a presentation to the general issues committee on Monday, said Hamiltonians spend 7/10ths of a percentage point of their household income on water and wastewater services.
Director of Water Andrew Grice says that is one of the lowest rates among Ontario cities.
Coun. Maureen Wilson says “it’s not a badge of honour to be at the bottom of the list, and this is going to be the last year that I’m going to support that basement dwelling.”
Wilson adds that constituents of Ward 1 have told her that “particularly after this incident that happened at Chedoke, a priority for them is taking on our infrastructure deficit and investing seriously in that sub-surface infrastructure.”
She stresses that “it isn’t sexy, but it’s absolutely fundamental to the environment.”
Ontario’s ministry of environment issued an order to the City of Hamilton on Friday, in relation to a massive sewage spill into Chedoke Creek.
The order requires the city to undertake remedial measures, including “spot dredging”, and to further assess and propose other remedial options for Cootes Paradise and the West Harbour.
The 24-billion-litre leak of untreated wastewater into Chedoke Creek, over a period of more than four years, has been blamed on a gate that was left open in an underground holding tank.