Toronto residents can expect their water bills and garbage collection fees to rise by three per cent on average next year, but parking rates will remain the same.
The city’s budget committee meets Friday to review staff recommendations for what are called “rate-supported” budgets for water, solid waste and parking management — services which are largely paid for by user fees charged to residents and businesses.
If the water rate increase is approved, the average household would pay an extra $29 in 2022, bringing their bill to $979 from $951 annually after rates rise Jan. 1. The three per cent water rate increase would also apply to industrial and commercial users.
As for garbage and recycling, owners of single-family homes will see their garbage fees raised by around $8 to $16, depending on the size of their bin. The 2022 annual rate for a small bin would be $278.34, while the cost of an extra-large bin would be $532.29.
Overall, Toronto Water expects to spend $1.4 billion next year, while the proposed waste budget is pegged at $390 million.
Councillors will consider the rate-supported budgets at a full council meeting in mid-December.
Water use declines, but rates go up
Water consumption in Toronto has decreased, even though the city’s population has grown in the past decade, dropping from 353 million cubic metres in 2010 to a projected 315 million cubic metres in 2021, according to a staff report.
Consumption was lower than usual in the winter months of 2020 and 2021, leading to a $13.7-million loss in revenue for Toronto Water. The report attributes the decrease to weather and the impact of COVID-19 lockdown measures on industrial and commercial settings.
Toronto Water staff say regular rate increases are necessary to keep up with the rising cost of running the city’s self-funded water and wastewater program, while also ensuring that money is set aside for infrastructure upgrades and capital projects in the coming years.
Staff say there is a $1.4-billion “state-of-good-repair” backlog affecting everything from water mains, sewers, treatment plants and pumping stations. A 10-year plan aims to bring that down by approximately two-thirds by 2031.
In their report, staff point out that Toronto homeowners pay some of the lowest water rates when compared to other municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Residents of Richmond Hill, which has the highest rates in the area, pay an annual average of $1,165 compared to $965 for Toronto residents for 230 cubic metres of water. Peel Region residents pay the lowest water rates at $679 per year for the same amount of water.
Parking authority sees loss
Meanwhile, the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) reported a revenue loss of $9.5 million in 2021, due to lower than expected demand from commuters. The TPA operates the city’s on-street metered parking and off-street parking facilities, along with Bike Share Toronto.
“Operating revenues continue to be impacted by the prolonged pandemic shut downs and changing consumer mobility patterns,” a staff report said.
Additionally, city initiatives including CurbTO and CafeTO, which saw restaurants set up patios on city streets, led to the loss of 2,340 on-street paid parking spaces in 2021 and contributed to $3.7 million in lost revenue.
Despite the losses, the parking authority expects revenues to recover to 72 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. It’s proposing a $105.9-million budget for 2022.
Parking rates are expected to remain the same “in order to support Business Improvement Areas and to remain competitive in marketplace,” staff said.