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Water, sewer rates reworked

Decreased sewer budget increases lower rates

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Durham’s water and sewer rates are set to rise after a lengthy regional council debate.

Oshawa’s Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson brought forward an amendment to lower the 2020 sewer rates during the most recent committee of the whole meeting.

With the amendment in place, water and sewer rates are both set to rise 2.3 per cent in the new year.

Initially a four per cent increase to sewer rates was proposed, and Durham residents would have seen an increase of 3.2 per cent on their bill, which equals an average of $7.64 every quarter.

Calculating over the entire year, the average resident would have seen an increase of $30.56 on their sewer bill.

However, according to commissioner of finance Nancy Taylor, with the increase to the sewer rates cut down to 2.3 per cent, residents should expect a smaller increase in 2020.

“Because we’re rerunning the numbers, and because it was all on the fly [at committee of the whole], and because it has to be ratified by council… it should work out to about $22.50 annually for an average household water user,” Taylor told The Oshawa Express.

While Nicholson’s amendment did pass with councillors such as Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster and Whitby councillor Chris Leahy voicing their support, not everyone was thrilled.

Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell refused to give the amendment his vote, noting council has a similar discussion every year.

“We should be celebrating what’s going on here,” said Mitchell, who believed staff had brought council an acceptable increase.

Brock’s Ted Smith also wouldn’t lend his vote to the amendment, noting council needed to look at the long-term effects.

He wanted to know where it left council as rates continue to rise year after year.

“I think to keep it that low is short sighted, and we have to do good long-term planning here,” he said.

Oshawa Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri pointed out council needs to recognize the pressures residents are feeling as their bills increase.

“If we believe that people aren’t looking at that and saying, ‘You’ve got enough of my money, and now you want more?’ I think we’re being tone deaf,” Marimpietri said.

With the amendment ultimately passing, Taylor and her team will now rework the numbers before bringing them back to regional council.