Abbotsford city council has approved a drop in water and wastewater rates over the next three years for residential users but raised the same costs for the industrial, commercial, institutional and agricultural sectors.
The new water rates for residents will remain at $1.15 per cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water in 2013 but drop to $1.11 per cubic metre in 2014 and $1.08 in 2015.
Residential wastewater rates will be 84 cents per cubic metre in 2013 and drop to 81 cents and 78 cents in 2014 and 2015. New water rates for the commercial and institutional users will start at 92 cents per cubic metre in 2013 and rise to $1 and $1.08 in 2014 and 2015, which will bring the class on par with residential users
Wastewater rates for that class will be 63 cents per cubic metre next year and rise to 69 and 78 cents over the next two years. Industrial and agricultural water users face marginally lower increases with rates of 92 cents per cubic metre in 2013, followed by 94 cents and 97 cents.
Wastewater rates in the same class will start at 59 cents per cubic metre in 2013, rising to 65 cents and 70 cents in the next two years.
The new rates were implemented after a review of the ICI-ag rates and council's desire to balance the rate gap between residential and non-residential customers.
Formerly, all non-residential users were paying declining block rates that saw them pay less the more water and wastewater they used.
Meanwhile, residents had uniform rates that were also higher than the ICI-ag sectors base rates.
Coun. Henry Braun lauded the increases for the ICI-ag sector but argued for a drop in residential rates to 83 cents per cubic metre, which would simply cover the costs for maintenance and asset replacement of the system.
However, the rest of his colleagues disagreed, with other councillors stating the remainder of the fees were not "profit" but money that went into a reserve that would be saved and used to finance necessary future capital projects, possibly a new water source.
Water rates in Abbotsford are cheaper than Mission and Langley but are higher than in Chilliwack, said Jim Gordon, city head of engineering.