Complaint leads to lower water bills for some northeast Calgary residents

About 30 city water customers in Livingston will get their bills adjusted after it's determined they're residential customers and not multi-family ones.

City says customers were in line to pay less next year but it's adjusting their bills now

Warren Rempel learned that sometimes you can fight city hall after noticing he was being charged more for water after moving. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Warren Rempel has discovered that maybe you can fight city hall.

For several months, Rempel has been complaining to Enmax and to the City of Calgary about his water bill.

Rempel moved into a new townhome in Livingston last December. 

It's a new community that's starting to rise from fields on the northern edge of the city, just past Stoney Trail.

He noticed that the basic charge on his water bill was about $20 a month higher than it was at his previous address.

After finding information on the city's website, he phoned Enmax to question why he was being charged the multi-family rate but not the residential rate.

But he wasn't quite able to get to the bottom of it. 

After contacting CBC News a couple of weeks ago, the city called him to say he would be getting a credit on his bill of approximately $200.

"Once they went through it, the city was very apologetic. They said that yes, it was incorrect billing. That they would be correcting it," said Rempel.

"It's relieving to know it's been dealt with."

30 accounts will be adjusted

And he's not the only one who will see a change on utility bills.

Thirty other water customers on Livingston Way N.E. will soon have their bills adjusted and receive a credit.

Customers on this street in northeast Calgary will receive credits on their water bills after mistakenly being charged an improper rate by the city. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

The leader of customer strategy for the city's water utility, Josepha Vanderstoop, said the adjustments are being made because it's the right thing to do.

She said that the city does a cost of service study every four years.

It ensures that customer classifications are accurate, based on usage.

"The types of homes are evolving in this city and we have to keep pace with that," said Vanderstoop.

"We recognize that there are changes in usage patterns and therefore that they're more appropriately categorized in another customer group."

Right thing to do

In short, customers like Rempel should be paying the lower rate because their usage is more like residential customers than multi-family.

The new classification wasn't supposed to take effect until 2019 but she said the city has decided to adjust the rates now because it's the right thing to do.

The refunds to the customers will cost the city about $4,500. 

Josepha Vanderstoop, leader of customer strategy for the city's water utility, said the adjustments are being made because it's the right thing to do. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

It's not known yet if more city water customers could be due for adjustments.

Vanderstoop said the city is reviewing all accounts and if there are changes for any other customers, it will notify them directly.

Because the changes relate to usage, she said any adjustments would not be based on the specific housing type or the location of the customer.

Rempel said he would advise other Calgarians to scrutinize their utility bills and if they feel something isn't right, they should call 3-1-1 or contact the city.


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