Nova Scotia

Halifax Water's stormwater charge upsets some customers

Some residents are receiving bills from Halifax Water to pay for the cost of treating runoff from roads and streets and many are not pleased about the new stormwater fee.

Fee applies even to those with their own water supply

The $39 fee will appear on annual Halifax Water bills, or be spread out quarterly. (CBC)

Some residents are receiving bills from Halifax Water to pay for the cost of treating runoff from roads and streets, but many are not pleased about new stormwater fee.

​Lori Day lives in Hammonds Plains and receives no water or sewer service from Halifax Water. But she recently got a bill in the mail for the HRM right-of-way charge, often called the ditch tax.

"I wasn't impressed. I didn't know what to think," she said.

"I don't know what it means," she added. "I get this little thing that says, 'It is a charge based on the stormwater that flows from the public street right of way into HRM water-stormwater system.' I don't know what that is."

Day appealed last year's stormwater fee and plans to fight this year's fee too.

In the summer of 2013, the Utility and Review Board ruled the municipality has to cover the cost of the rainfall and meltwater that flows off paved roads.

HRM pays Halifax Water about $4 million a year to handle the runoff. That turns into a $39 annual charge for every Halifax resident inside the stormwater service area.

"If you typically receive one Halifax Water bill a year, you'll see that full up $39 fee on that bill. If typically you would have four bills per year, it would be charged out quarterly," explained Halifax spokeswoman Tiffany Chase.

Coun. Matt Whitman hears unhappiness from his constituents.

"People are very upset. People feel like they're being double taxed," he said.

"This new one is for water off our streets onto their ditch, which is owned by Halifax Water. People are just frustrated, disappointed."

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