Utilities will jump up four per cent next year for Coquitlam homeowners.
On Monday (Dec. 5), city council unanimously gave three readings — without comment — to a bylaw that will see 2023 rates increase by four per cent for water, sewer/drainage and garbage; the bylaw is set to be adopted next week.
Here's the breakdown:
- Single-family home: $640 (up $25)
- Multi-family home: $384 (up $15)
- Suite: $256 (up $10)
- Flat rate: $522 (up $20)
- Suite rate: $209 (up $8)
- 120-litre garbage cart: $275 (up $11)
- 240-litre garbage cart: $364 (up $14)
- 360-litre garbage cart: $514 (up $20)
Last month, at its finance meeting, city manager Peter Steblin told council the Metro Vancouver Regional District — of which the City of Coquitlam purchases water, sewage treatment and solid waste disposal services — has major projects on its books to finance.
- Coquitlam Lake Water Supply Project
- Coquitlam Water Main Project
- seismic upgrades to the existing Coquitlam Lake intake project
- Cape Horn pump station project
Steblin warned that the agency has tried to lower utility prices for municipalities in the past, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, "but those costs are coming."
"The projects are coming. The question is, How big will the projects be?" asked Coun. Craig Hodge, who will return to the Metro Vancouver board of directors in 2023 (Coun. Teri Towner is replacing Mayor Richard Stewart next year).
Hodge suggested if Metro Vancouver keeps holding off, the bills will be "pushed down the road to future councils."
Meanwhile, also on Monday, council adopted — without discussion — the city's five-year capital plan, which carries a $631-million price tag.
Next year, the municipality is projected to spend $127.8 million on the following:
- parks, trails and sports fields ($28.6 million)
- transportation ($28 million)
- facilities ($20.5 million)
- land management ($16.2 million)
- other assets ($13.2 million)
- water ($8 million)
- sewer ($3 million)
- waste ($100,000)
According to a Nov. 29 report from Michelle Hunt, Coquitlam’s general manager of finance, lands and police, the 2023–27 capital plan includes $132 million in 2024 for the Northeast Community Centre in the Partington Creek neighbourhood on Burke Mountain.
The city intends to go into debt by $78.1 million to pay for the centre, but the money will be repaid using revenues from future developments.
And the municipality will borrow $2.8 million from its Sewer and Drainage Operating Surplus Reserve to pay for two projects: the Northeast Upper Victoria Drive Trunk Sewer and Fremont Corridor, as well as the Northeast Partington Creek channel upgrades, totalling $134,000 in annual debt servicing, Hunt wrote in her report.
The capital plan also includes more money for the Spani Pool Renewal Project and Innovation Centre update, as well as $10.6 million in new funding for, among other things:
- groundwater for park irrigation ($1.8 million)
- financial systems replacement ($1.5 million)
- city space renovation ($1.2 million)
- Local Government Climate Action Program ($1.15 million)
- sewer pipe CCTV and Stoney Creek enhancements ($815,000)
At last month's finance committee, Coquitlam’s finance director Gorana Cabral told council that development is a key funding source for the city to expand its programs and services.
But that industry is "volatile" with the tight labour market, the rising cost of materials and supply-chain demands, she said.
Coun. Dennis Marsden said council needs to focus on projects-in-progress.
"We've got a very extensive list of capital projects that I think this council needs to take a look at and prioritize, and determine if there's some that we might take the foot off the accelerator on," he said at the Nov. 23 meeting.
He also recommended the city invest in electric vehicles for its fleet, given they last longer.
Coun. Matt Djonlic also queried about the $166,000 shortfall from TransLink that the city has to make up to pay for regional roads; however, that funding gap is for 2023 only, Cabral said, noting TransLink is now reviewing its Major Road Network funding formula for municipalities.
Steblin cited the Fremont Connector, a long-awaited arterial between Burke Mountain and Port Coquitlam that TransLink refused to pay last year.
Jaime Boan, Coquitlam's general manager of engineering and public works, said city officials are pushing TransLink for more money and are documenting when the agency isn’t giving enough for transportation improvements.
Coquitlam adopts its capital plan in December to secure tenders for capital projects in the new year. The newly elected council will talk about the operating budget, which determines the rates for property taxes, early in 2023.