A building will corrugated steel siding is seen on a snowy, grey day. On the side of the building is a blue H with a wave through it, Halifax Water's logo. Next to the H, written in orange, "Halifax Regional Water Commission." Under that, the number 450.
Halifax Water headquarters in November 2019. Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

Halifax Water has applied to the provincial utilities regulator to raise its rates for water, wastewater, and stormwater.

The municipally-owned utility submitted an 820-page application to the Utility and Review Board (UARB) on Friday, seeking approval to raise rates in September 2022 and April 2023 “to maintain the current level of service to customers, recognize additions to utility plant in service, and continue investment in water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.”

The increase is an average of 3.6% for residential customers’ bills, according to Halifax Water’s news release, equal to $2.51 per month in September and an additional $2.60 in April 2023. But the rate application notes it’s dependent on multiple factors:

The range of rate increases requested varies depending upon the size of the meter connection and the volume of water consumed. The rate increases requested for 5/8” meters, which are primarily residential customers total 3.1% for water, and wastewater on September 1, 2022, and 3.0% for water and wastewater on April 1, 2023. Requested increases for all other meter sizes will range from 3.5% to 4.8% in 2022/23 and from 1.7% to 5.4% in 2023/24.

In 2020, Halifax Water proposed rate hikes of 5.8% for the average residential ratepayer effective September 1 and another 5.8% effective April 1, 2021. It abandoned those rate hikes when COVID-19 hit, and now the utility argues it needs customers to pay more.

“Halifax Water is at a critical point that requires the utility to submit a rate application to avoid further operating deficits. Our team is acutely aware of the impact that this has on our customers and understand that any increase is unwelcome. That is why we have worked through numerous financial models to help minimize the impact on customers over the next two years,” general manager Cathie O’Toole said in the news release.

Stormwater rates are going up too, between 14.3% and 18.5% this year and 18.8% and 19.8% next year, depending on a property’s “impervious area.” There’s a chart here showing the different rate increases.

The UARB will hold a hearing on the increase, with opportunities for the public to participate. You can follow the application on the UARB site with the matter number M10468.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. Wish that the provincial auditor would audit Halifax Water. They are in serious need of a review.