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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Proposed Water Rates

Dear editor, Rossland Council is in the process of adopting a water rates bylaw for 2009 that will impose significant rate increases on people who are least able to afford it - seniors living in apartments. The rate increases are based not on the amount of water used by residents in the apartments but primarily of the number of units in the building. According to examples provided to Council by staff, the water rate for the Golden City Manor (after seniors discount) will increase to $3170 in 2009 from $788 in 2008 - a 402% increase! Residents in Esling Park Lodge will see a 175% increase from $1317 to $2308. Other disparities exist as well. For example, a business using 100 cubic metres of water a month would pay $567 per year. A 30 unit apartment building on the other hand will pay $4,461 for using exactly the same amount of water - 100 cubic metres per month. Residents in single family homes also face a water rate increase, but only 10.9%, from $322 last year to $357 this year. These rate increases are being imposed even though currently available information suggests a surplus in the 2008 water operations budget of over $170,000. Calculations based on the new rates indicate there could be a surplus of $70,000 this year. While the large surpluses are going to be needed to help pay for all the infrastructure work that needs to be done (read even higher rates are coming), that is no justification for imposing such large rate increases on vulnerable residents simply because they live in an apartment. The City’s much touted Strategic Sustainability Plan has identified affordable housing as one of the key issues in Rossland. Imposing such high water rates on apartment buildings is certainly not a way to achieve affordable housing. Laurie Charlton Rossland