Nova Scotia

Brewery panel says water hike will cost Oland $1M per year

Oland Brewery is against a proposed Halifax Water rate hike that's before the Utility and Review Board saying the rate increase for large users would cost the company an additional $1 million per year.

Brewer admits failure to meet deadline to decrease wastewater produced

If the UARB approves Halifax Water's request, it would cost businesses like Oland Brewery hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (CBC)

Oland Brewery is against a proposed Halifax Water rate hike that’s before the Utility and Review Board saying the rate increase for large users would cost the company an additional $1 million per year.

The utility is asking the UARB to allow two increases for residential customers — one this summer of 11.2 per cent and another in April 2014 of 16.7 per cent. But the brewery said the proposed hike for businesses that draw large volumes of water would be much higher, costing the company millions in the first few years. 

The utility says the increases will help it comply with new federal regulations and replace the old infrastructure.

Oland Brewery produced a panel of four experts to testify on day two of the UARB hearing Tuesday.  

Kirby Dumaresque, general manager at the brewery, says if the costs are too high, Oland won't be able to compete against other breweries.

"A million dollar increase is a lot of money regardless of any organization you are in. It's a significant cost to us and it's a cost we want to obviously reduce as much as possible," said Dumaresque.  

According to the brewery, the rate hike won't weaken the company's viability but it could put them at a competitive disadvantage threatening the company's growth.

"I think the increase of the rate structure makes us less competitive with the other breweries across Canada and outside the country," says Dumaresque.  

He says the company wants to pay a fair share of the costs but they don't want to pay for additional costs such as suburban pipes that aren't going to service their business directly.

The company also objects to proposed increases in its pollution surcharges, which have been levied because it constantly exceeds the regulatory limits.

Charmaine Mullins, an environmental health and safety manager at Oland, says the brewery is making progress in decreasing the amount of wastewater the company produces.

However, the company admitted they had failed to meet their year and a half deadline and said it may be better for Halifax Water to treat its effluent.

Dumaresque says Oland Brewery intends to continue reducing their wastewater production but couldn't say when the company would reach a level that complies with current guidelines for being in a residential area.

The review board is set to hear from other companies concerned with rate hikes, including large landlords Mic Mac Mall and Imperial Oil.

With files from Paul Withers, Cyndi Fendley Sweeney