Halifax bridge commission loses bid for 2,000% fee hike
Utility and Review Board rules commission's request 'unreasonable'
The Halifax Water Commission will have to pay more to continue using the underside of the Macdonald Bridge to carry a large waterline across Halifax Harbour — but not the huge increase it was facing.
On Thursday, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board rejected the carrying fee sought by the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission.
"The board is of the view that an immediate 2,000 per cent increase in the fee from $37,000 to $762,930 does not meet the reasonableness test," NSUARB chair Peter Gurham wrote in a decision settling the lengthy dispute between the two government agencies.
In his ruling, Gurnham suggested the annual fee should be $110,000, which reflects inflation since the original agreed rate of $20,000 was set in 1973.
Gurnham sided with the Bridge Commission in the other issue under dispute. He ordered Halifax Water to pay the full cost to remove and replace the waterline.
The water must be removed because of a bridge redecking project in 2015.
"The board does not see any logical reason why the bridge commission and its customers should pay any portion of the $5.92 million cost for replacement of the waterline," Gurnham wrote.
"We're pleased to have the board's decision. We believe it's reasonable," bridge commission spokeswoman Alison MacDonald says.
"This was not an easy situation. That's why we went to the UARB in the first place, to have them help with it."