It’s been a long haul for Prince Rupert hoteliers Frank Zdravlje and Don McNeil.
For almost two years, the two have advocated the City change the way it configures its commercial sewer rates.
They wanted it changed from a flat rate, which they felt was inflated, to a rate that was tied to metred water consumption. They also wanted commercial sewer fees levied on the same target ratio as residential fees.
This week the two got their wish when City Council passed two bylaws. One sets the sewer rate based on water consumption with a ratio of 98 per cent for both commercial and residential. The other bylaw sets the water rates for the next three years with increases of five per cent in 2011, five per cent in 2012 and 20 per cent in 2013 to encourage commercial entities to become metered.
“We can thank the council and mayor. We are very happy with the result that should have come here ten years ago but it’s fine,” said Zdravlje at the end of Monday night’s meeting.
“Fair is fair for residential or commercial. Everybody pays the same rate whether it’s electricity, water or sewer,” he said.
There will be some commercial users that will see an increase in sewer charges and this had council concerned.
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne made a motion that council direct staff to allow people having a substantial increase in fees to negotiate a payment plan if necessary for their 2011 fees.
“I would hope that if someone was to find this a real hardship that we’d be open to help them through it,” said Gordon-Payne.
The motioned was passed unanimously.
For residential users, the new rates translate into a $9 increase overall for 2011.
There will be a reduction of $16 a year for water because the City will now base the householder rate on Environment Canada reports.
In 2006, the report suggested the average in B.C. was 448 litres per capita per day and that was for residents that are watering lawns and washing cars – activities not often seen in Prince Rupert, Chief Financial Officer Dan Rodin told council.
“Up until now, residents were charged on an average of 512 litres a day,” said Rodin.
On the sewer side of things, residents will see an increase of $25 a year.
Council made it final adoption of the two bylaws at a special in-camera meeting held Wednesday at noon.
After the meeting Mayor Jack Mussallem said the new bylaws will bring Prince Rupert into an era of economic fairness between all the rates that are set up as classification for the various sewer and water uses.
“Billing will go ahead now, be processed and mailed out in March. There is still the ten percent discount for early payment so people will have the opportunity to take advantage of that,” the mayor said.