Calgary’s taxation of water, wastewater, and drainage fees is causing a stir as city council recently announced it would reduce planned increases of 8.3 per cent for water and wastewater and 19.1 per cent for drainage annually to 2.5 per cent and 7.4 per cent, respectively.

Calgary is serviced by 3 wastewater treatment plants, Fish Creek, Pine Creek, and Bonnybrook. Bonnybrook serves 900,000 people, more than 80 per cent of the population.

President and CEO of the Institute for Public Sector Accountability, Marcel Latouche, said of the lowering rates, “I believe they are taking an excessive amount out of the utilities to go to the general fund.” That is to say, that city council’s initial plan was to excessively increase water, wastewater, and drainage taxes and apply the revenue to other projects.

Ward One city councilor, Ward Sutherland, defended city council’s plan. “There is a $1.2-billion debt right now for waste water and water. And that’s for the infrastructure. We are supplying these services to outside municipalities and we’re not allowed to charge them the proper rate to recover it until this year only. So we’re basically subsidizing.”

Through 2022, Bonnybrook is slated to undergo a series of infrastructure improvements with a price tage of approximately $93 million. By 2022, the plant is expected to service 1.275 million people.

Since April, a portion of 15 Street S.E. has been closed to connect a new dewatering building to the existing facilities. The facility was damaged when the Bow River flooded in 2013.

In 2013, Bonnybrook underwent a $65 million upgrade to its headworks building, the main point of influent entry to the plant.

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Mr. Latouche and Councilor Sutherland were quoted in iNews 880 AM.

A previous version of this piece referenced incorrectly attributed the rate of taxation fluctuation to Edmonton.

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