Delta council approved a $30 increase in utility rates, which is in lockstep with cost increases across Metro Vancouver.
A single-family home in Delta will now pay a total of $1,090 for water, sewer service and garbage collection in 2019, according to a presentation by Delta’s director of finance, Karl Preuss. Overall, it represents a 2.8-per-cent increase in costs.
Water and sewer services will make up $17 of the increased cost, with all but a dollar going to Metro Vancouver. Of the $13 increase for garbage services, $11 will cover the processing of recyclables, with the rest paying for the general collections contract. In 2011, Delta was making roughly $700,000 in revenue selling recyclables, but as of 2018, that stream has dwindled to “an insignificant amount.”
“It looks like China no longer buys many types of recycled materials that we were selling previously,” Preuss told city council on Jan. 28. “That has changed to where we’re actually paying to have our recyclables processed.”
Preuss went on to say that utility increases projected by Metro Vancouver over the next four years will amount to 11 per cent per year for water rates, while sewer rates will go up 9.3 per cent in 2020, 13 per cent in 2021 and 2022 and 8.7 per cent in 2023.
In context, this year’s Metro Vancouver water costs represent an increase of 5.8 per cent over 2018, and sewer costs went up by three per cent.
“So yes, there are some significant challenges that council is going to face as these increases are going to be passed on to residents,” Preuss told council.
Coun. Lois Jackson took issue with the projected costs and argued the increases add to the economic woes of the region’s residents. She wants to see Metro Vancouver, which sets the water and sewer rates, take a new look at how it charges individual municipalities.
“I look at what’s happening out in Metro Vancouver when it just continues to escalate and I really have a problem with that,” Jackson said.
“I know there’s nothing we can particularly do about it ourselves. It has to be a conglomerate from all over Metro Vancouver. Most of this, in my opinion, is to accommodate the new growth that’s here, and I am still concerned that new growth isn’t really paying for itself.”
Acting mayor Bruce McDonald praised the region’s water and sewer systems, saying Metro Vancouver is actively updating some of those, such as new treatment plants on the North Shore and in the Langley region, or is in need of updating others, such as the primary treatment plant on Sea Island. These capital investments, he said, necessitate increased costs for residents down the line.
“I agree fully that we have to be lean and mean, and make sure we’re doing things in the appropriate manner, but we also have to look at what we’re getting back as a service in those areas,” McDonald said to council.
Despite the concerns by some council members, the cost increases were adopted unanimously.