Downtown Sudbury.

Sewage backups and demand for emergency accommodation were up in Sudbury last year, according to the city’s latest report card.

The Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative released its annual Performance Measurement Report for 2012 last week looking at municipalities across the province, including the City of Greater Sudbury.

The report provides a picture of how well each city is doing in areas such as transit, social housing, roads, police and fire services, sports and recreation, and taxation. It’s put together by city managers in 13 Ontario municipalities.

'We're trying to work very hard ... to make people understand that fat, oil and grease don't belong in the sewer.' - Nick Benkovich, manager of Sudbury’s water and wastewater

According to the report, sewage backups in Sudbury were up last year: There were 5.97 backups per 100 kilometres of wastewater main compared to just 3.9 the year before.

The report notes that the number of sewage backups is related to the design, age and condition of a city’s wastewater collection infrastructure.

But an official from Sudbury’s water and wastewater office says the numbers are misleading, because the figures now include backups in lateral pipelines, which are owned and maintained by homeowners.

“We're trying to work very hard with the community to make people understand that fat, oil and grease don't belong in the sewer,” said Nick Benkovich, manager of Sudbury’s water and wastewater.

He says the number of main sewage backups actually dropped by 11 last year.

Longer stay in homeless shelters

The report also found a dramatic increase in the number of days families are spending in emergency accommodation, such as homeless shelters.

In 2011, families spent an average of 12.7 days per stay in a shelter, compared to an average of 28.5 days last year.

“There was a real influx, particularly last summer, of women and families, of larger families, women with three and four children in their families,” said Gail Spencer, co-ordinator of the city’s shelters and homelessness programs.

She says that so far this year, demand seems to have returned to normal.