Charlottetown residents will pay base rate with water meters

Dave Stewart
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Coun. Mitchell Tweel says city was wrong in not conveying that message from the beginning

water issues

Residents in Charlottetown who have a water meter installed on their home will pay a fee, regardless of whether they use a drop of water.

Coun. Mitchell Tweel rose during the regular public monthly meeting on Monday night to ask questions about that fee, criticizing the city in an interview with The Guardian later about the fact the city hasn't released that information.

In response to questions from Tweel, Craig Walker, manager of the city's water and sewer utility, said that residents will pay $302 per year for the service. That fee breaks down to $116 for water and $186 for sewer.

Walker explained that there is a base/demand charge for the water meter and that even if not a drop of water is used the homeowner will be responsible for paying that bill. He also compared it to paying the electricity bill from Maritime Electric, saying that there is a base fee for that as well.

Tweel says he's not impressed that this message wasn't conveyed to the public.

"The whole philosophy behind the meters is user pay. You pay for how much water you use, that's the way it was sold to the residents in the city,'' Tweel said following the council meeting. "All the press releases that came out of City Hall, all the interviews that (the media) have done with the chair (of water and sewer) and anyone else discussing the issue of meters, not once were you told (about a base rate). If you do not use a drop of water whatsoever, whether to drink or bathe in it, you still have to pay for the meter on a monthly basis and the residents weren't told that.''

Tweel said he understands the message being conveyed was that meters will help conserve water but added that residents deserve the truth.

"You have to tell the whole story (and) that message was not conveyed to the community. The question I have is why, after 15 interviews and 25 press releases, was this information not conveyed to the community? I might add that (residents) never had an opportunity to discuss the issue, never had an opportunity to be consulted on it.''

The city will pay to have meters installed on homes. Any residents who volunteered for the program and paid the installation costs themselves will be reimbursed by the city.

The program is technically voluntary in that the city is only hooking up customers who ask for the meter. However, council has a resolution on the books making metering mandatory, saying that everyone has to be hooked up no later than Dec. 31, 2019.

Council decided in November to hold off on going into specific areas of the city. Although no one would say so on the record, there are some who were concerned about forcing water meters on residents ahead of the November 2014 civic election.

Organizations: Maritime Electric

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Guy Cousineau
    December 12, 2013 - 14:46

    Currently, I am paying $396 for sewer, like KL I am on a well. So for HEllooooo people, check your tax bill and your water/sewer bill. You are already paying for sewer and/or water. Now, the rate structure will change depending on your consumption. The concept is fair although we might disagree with the actual numbers.

  • don
    December 12, 2013 - 07:09

    you will have to forgive the city they are running the CAPITAL CITY the 2nd biggest city in canada. so they forgot LOL yah right.

  • KL
    December 12, 2013 - 06:02

    I was informed recently that I still have to pay city water rates even though my home isn't even hooked up to the water lines (I have my own well which has been in place far before any lines travelled to my neighbourhood). Our property taxes pay for infrastructure; this is a pure cash grab.

  • Fools
    December 11, 2013 - 22:56

    I wonder if the guy that has to use the outside hose in the other article has to pay a water bill ? We paying for the water supply for new islanders in new condos

  • Jon
    December 11, 2013 - 22:08

    Seems to make sense to me. If you don't use any water, disconnect from the city lines. There are costs to have wells and pipes in place in case you decide to turn on a tap. So, there is a fixed fee for a connection. There are additional costs for maintaining those pipes and wells by running water through them and these are likely to increase as more water passes through them. So, you pay a second rate based on how much water you use. Please stand out of the way of progress Councillor Tweel.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    December 11, 2013 - 22:05

    Usually I don't agree with Tweel's protests but in this case I do. Clearly someone at City Hall has tried to cover up this information to make water meters acceptable. This is much like the sham in Ontario right now where off hour hydro charges have turned out to be not as represented.

  • Hellooooooo people....
    December 11, 2013 - 21:48

    REPEAT...aren't taxes already covering water & sewage as it is? Will anyone stand up and fight this??

  • Rob
    December 11, 2013 - 16:53

    Let's be clear.... installing a meter in every residence in Charlottetown is an additional cost that each of us will pay for in one form or other. In essence it is an additional tax being called a fee. I was not consulted nor do I support it... I doubt very much that it will save one drop of water. It is a knee jerk reaction to a problem that will no longer exist once the new well comes on-line.

  • But but
    December 11, 2013 - 15:40

    But aren't taxes already covering water & sewage as it is?

  • James
    December 11, 2013 - 15:39

    oh look, another money grab. Not surprising that this happened, this gov will do anything to bleed people dry