Toronto homeowners to face higher increases for water and solid waste this year but parking fees will be frozen in effort to lure back commuters
Published Wednesday, November 3, 2021 12:06PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, November 3, 2021 2:28PM EDT
Toronto homeowners will face bigger increases on their water and solid waste bills this year after the annual hikes were cut in half in 2021 in recognition of the hardships many residents were facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most utility bills only went up 1.5 per cent last year as the city scrapped a planned three per cent increase to water rates and a planned 2.7 per cent increase to garbage fees.
But staff are now recommending that the higher increases return as part of the 2022 budget process.
That means that the average homeowner will pay an additional $29 to Toronto Water in 2021 and see their garbage fees increase by about $8 to $16, depending on the size of their bin.
Toronto Water staff say in their budget submission that the annual three per cent increase is needed to help the utility reduce a $1.4 billion state-of-good-repair backlog over the next decade.
They also point out that Toronto still has among the lowest water rates in the GTHA with residents forking out an average of $965 per year.
In Richmond Hill, which has the most expensive water rates, residents pay $1,165 for the same amount of water. Peel Region has the cheapest water rates at $679 per year for 230 cubic metres.
“A strong recovery requires significant investments which improve service reliability and create jobs. With the launch of the rate-supported budgets today, we see that for the third year in a row, we are looking at the highest amount ever invested in capital infrastructure in the history of Toronto Water. This is the right thing to do,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “Having 100-year-old watermains and constantly flooded basements is not acceptable.”
The proposed fees for 2022 come as the city formally kicks off its budget process with the tabling of the rate-supported budgets for Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management Services and the Toronto Parking Authority.
Toronto Water is reporting a $13.7 million loss in revenue in 2021 due to “lower consumptions as a result of stay at home orders and closures/slowdowns” in industrial and commercial settings but it says that it expects revenue to return to normal levels in 2022.
The Toronto Parking Authority, meanwhile, says that its revenue for 2021 will come in $11.37 million lower than expected due to a reduced demand for parking from commuters during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact in 2021, the average on-street parking space only generated $1,600 in revenue, or about $4.38 a day. The Toronto Parking Authority wants that number to increase to $2,400 per on-street spot in 2022 annd $3,100 per on-street spot in 2023.
Looking ahead, it says that it expects revenues to return to 72 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022 but will nonetheless freeze rates to “encourage the return of customers.”
The city will table its tax-supported operating and capital budgets for the first time on Nov. 19.
Tory has previously said that he plans to work to keep any tax hike to the rate of inflation. However, with Canada’s inflation rate recently hitting an 18-year high that could still translate into the highest tax increase homeowners in Toronto have faced in years.