Volume 12 Week 5

Wednesday, Jan. 16


Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney




Water rate rethink a sign of poor salesmanship

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

News that the city is going back to the drawing board to come up with another option, or options, to appease rural residents upset at the fact that they might have to pay for stormwater infrastructure is entirely representative of the poor job the city has done in explaining the changes to the public.

First, they should have realized from Day 1 that asking rural residents to pay for stormwater infrastructure would be a hugely contentious issue. Which is why it should have been explained to them in as clear a manner as possible.

At the first public meeting I went to it was an afterthought, even though 44 of the 47 people in the room at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Centre were from the country.

The crazy thing is that it can be easily explained in a few paragraphs. First of all, there are hundreds of kilometres of drainage ditches, hundreds of culverts and a couple of dozen stormwater ponds that serve the rural community and it costs roughly $8 million a year to maintain them.

Up until now, that cost has covered exclusively by the city’s urban and suburban residents on their bi-monthly water and sewer bills. In other words rural residents currently don’t pay a penny for the maintainance of rural culverts, stormwater ponds, or drainage ditches.

It wasn’t always that way, however. Prior to amalgamation rural residents did pay for rural stormwater management infrastructure to the tune of $120 to $180 year depending on the municipality. That all changed in 2001 when the newly-amalgamated City of Ottawa took the charge off the rural tax bills and placed it on the urban and suburban water bills at the suggestion of the amalgamation transition committee.

The end result is that the city’s urban and suburban residents have paying for rural stormwater infrastructure for the past 15 years and rural residents have gotten off scott free.

A perfect example of this is the massive culvert that was recently replaced in Navan at cost of more than $150,000.

The city has done a less than stellar job in trying to explain these facts to rural residents. If there’s confusion, they have only themselves to blame.

(Updated 11:30 a.m., April 20)


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