Quesnel City Council gave the first three readings on a new Comprehensive Fees and Charges Bylaw last night.
It includes a bump in both water and sewer.
Director of Finance Kari Bolton goes over the numbers…
“At this point we have a five percent increase to water utility fees, a two percent increase to bulk water and a two percent increase to the connection fees. On the sewer side this fund is at a sustainable level, so right now increases are only to cover inflationary pressures, so for the sewer fund we have a two percent increase to utility fees and a two percent increase to connection fees.”
In dollars and cents that means a $9.76 increase for water and five dollars for sewer.
Residential garbage rates will remain the same.
Commercial rates will increase however…
“There will be a 15 percent increase to trade container rentals and collection fees. Currently the fees do not cover the cost of that collection. At this point we are recommending that the rates for most products at the landfill be increased from 60 dollars a tonne to 70 dollars. Right now the city is not charging enough each year to cover the cost of closing the landfill.”
The city is also reducing the amount allowed for free for residents from 350 kilograms per load to 200 kilograms per load.
Bolton says less than two percent would be effected by that change, according to 2017 data.
By comparison when it comes to landfill rates, she says the Cariboo Regional District charges 80 dollars per tonne and only allows up to 100 kilograms free for residents.
Dog license fees will go up by five dollars to help cover the cost of doggy bags on the riverwalk, maintenance of the new dog park, and the City’s annual contribution to the SPCA.
There are also some changes when it comes to businesses.
Those that serve liquor will now pay 125 dollars a year, up from 75.
Banks will now pay a thousand dollars, which is up from 500, and Bolton says it is to help offset the bylaw cost of dealing with panhandling
There is also the addition of cannabis licensing fees, retail and production, just because those are new types of businesses.
Those costs are 15-hundred dollars for retail and five thousand for production.
City Councillor Ron Paull took issue with this…
“I’d like to hear why there’s such a huge difference between cannabis and liquor as it relates to retail and production. I’m sure we’re not charging the Barkerville Brewing company five thousand dollars because they’re making beer down there. When it comes right down to it cannabis and alcohol are the same, they’re legal. So it begs the question why one is so much more than the other. Is it because it’s new ? When it comes down to it I would say there are more problems relating to alcohol than cannabis.”
Mayor Bob Simpson, also the Chair of the Finance Committee, noted that there were a couple of reasons for the difference…
“One of the things you do when you set fees is you benchmark where other communities are establishing fees, and other communities fees range everywhere from about 500 dollars to 5,000 on the retail, and from 5 thousand dollars to 50 thousand dollars on the production side. They are very susceptible to armed robberies, break-ins, that you don’t get in any brewery, so there are community implications associated with cannabis production.”
Simpson also noted that the five thousand is really just an earmark so there was a category under cannabis production.
He expects it to go even higher once they know what the actual costs are.
Simpson also noted that at this point there were no applications in the works on the production side of cannabis in Quesnel.