THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO                                Port Hardy’s council will decide whether to enact the changes in the user rates and fees in an upcoming meeting.

THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO Port Hardy’s council will decide whether to enact the changes in the user rates and fees in an upcoming meeting.

Port Hardy water, sewer and garbage rates may go up

Water rates would increase by 2 per cent, garbage by 2.5 per cent, and sewer by 4 per cent.

Port Hardy locals can expect district fees to go up in 2019.

At their Dec. 11 council meeting, the District of Port Hardy decided to go ahead with first, second and third readings for a small increase in user rates and fees after lengthy discussions during council’s finance committee sittings.

“Water is a two per cent increase,” said the district’s Director of Financial Services Lynda Sowerby. She also noted that garbage rates could be expected to go up by 2.5 per cent in 2019. According to the meeting’s agenda package “Schedule B – Sewer rates” would have a four per cent change, but storm sewer rates did not change.

Sowerby provided an information package on “District of Port Hardy 2019 User Rate Bylaw Summary of Rate Changes.” She then requested for council to enact the rate changes under the user rate bylaw, which council approved for a first, second and third reading. Council still needs to make a decision on adoption in a future meeting.

The increase in user rates and fees were “part of our discussion in finance committee,” Sowerby added. “We viewed with council the position we are in with sewer and water rates.”

She also mentioned the district will need to have sufficient revenues to cover expenses. Expenses are expected to rise by a minimum of two per cent.

“This year we’ve set aside an amount that will go into the water reserve and sewer reserve for capital expenses,” she also noted via phone interview.

2018 utility rates hovered around $256.25 for each Port Hardy resident for each quarter, totalling up to $1,025 per year.

Coun. John Tidbury said that some reasons for the change in rates may be due to the cost of living. “You have to keep up with the cost of living. If you don’t keep up,” he added, “eventually what happens is somewhere down the line you’re starting to go into the hole.”

As for why the increase was relatively small, he also noted that “it’s nice to make small increments at a time each year rather than one big one every third year or fourth year where you’d be looking at five or six per cent.”

Port Hardy’s utility service allows for two cans of garbage per house on a bi-weekly pickup with extra garbage tags available for purchase at the municipal hall. Recycling has no limit on how many containers residents can use.

Port Hardy residents are billed for the water, sewer, garbage and recycling services every April, July, October, and January.