Toronto 2016 budget includes water, garbage rate increases

It’s already looking like homeowners can expect to pay a more this year as Toronto’s marathon budget process gets underway at city hall.

Budget chief says water increase is crucial to repairing aging infrastructure

The marathon budget process has begun at city hall with news that water and garbage collection rates will climb in 2016.

It's already looking like homeowners can expect to pay more this year as Toronto's marathon budget process gets underway at city hall.

Water rates are set to climb eight per cent — or about $72 per year — while the garbage collection rate is also going up three per cent in the 2016 recommended base budget.

Homeowners have been hit with increases every year for the last decade to help pay for the city's network of aging pipes.

"As difficult as it has been with the increases, the money is going to fixing the infrastructure that I think is critical to this city," said budget chief Gary Crawford.

"Our entire water infrastructure and operations are funded when you turn on the tap," said Beaches-East York Coun. Janet Davis.

"We are also in a situation where water use is going down … and that's what the big surprise for me was today."

Crawford also warned the garbage increase could be slightly higher for those with large garbage bins.

Mayor John Tory has also said a property tax increase is coming but promised it will be at or near the rate of inflation.

Several councillors are already suggesting meeting the mayor's goal will be a challenge.

"It's going to be tough to balance the books," said Coun. James Pasternak, of Ward 10 — York Centre.

Pasternak said the city might need to sell off some under-performing real estate properties if it wants to keep Tory's promise.

Etobicoke Centre Coun. John Campbell said the key is for the city to hold departmental costs where they are, even though every area has requested additional staff.

"We have a lot of staff," Campbell said.

"At some point you have to think that maybe we need to get the job done with what we have."

The budget debate continues at city hall in December. The final budget won't be ready until the new year.