Managing stormwater runoff, particularly in densely built-out urban areas, is a critical and costly responsibility for municipalities. From flood control to the quality of water entering our watersheds, it safeguards our properties, our source of drinking water, and our environment.
Once a largely out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue for many property owners, the increasing frequency and intensity of storms is visibly demonstrating the shortfall in funding to address our cities’ aging network of pipes, culverts and outfalls.
Bridging the Deficit
The long-standing issue for municipalities is not only where to raise needed money for maintenance, upgrades and new asset investments, given the growing gap in funding through property taxes and development fees, but how to do it fairly and equitably.
On May 27, 2015, following a two year Stormwater Financing Study, with input from a stakeholder group of about 30 residents, commercial-sector representatives and conservation authorities, Mississauga became the first City in the GTA to establish a new Stormwater Charge.
Pay-for-Use Funding Model
The user pay fee, which will come into effect January 2016, is based on each property’s contribution to runoff as indicated by their total impervious cover (roofs, paved areas, patios etc). In short, the more you cover, the more it costs. The rationale for the stormwater charge is outlined in the City’s video:
Non-residential and multi-residential properties will be eligible for a credit for managing their runoff on-site. The credit incentive will not be extended to single-family dwellings as the administrative costs are considered too high.
The initiative has been both applauded and criticized from both sides of the “incentive” fence. However, the premise of a funding model that reflects the true cost of stormwater management and correlates usage to fees, has been gaining traction in a number of Ontario municipalities and many in the States.
In the face of an undeniable problem it appears that the City of Mississauga is willing to weather the stormwaters by choosing action over inaction.
With the Stormwater Fees and Charges By-law in place, Mississauga is moving into the final stages of implementing the Stormwater Charge and Credit program.
Crozier & Associates has been invited, along with other municipal and storm drainage experts, to participate in a City of Mississauga workshop later this summer to provide input on finalizing their Stormwater Credit program. Discussions will include application requirements, credit evaluation criteria, terms and conditions of approval and a communication plan.
The City plans to open the Stormwater Credit application process this fall, at which time applications will be available online at stormwatercharge.ca. Currently, at the same site, you can read more about the stormwater charge as well as search for your property in Mississauga, by address, to see an estimate of your upcoming fees.
How can we Help?
Property owners and developers wishing to evaluate the cost of the upcoming stormwater charge and potential cost reductions through the credit program are invited to contact Nick Mocan, M.Sc., P.Eng, Associate, at our Crozier & Associates’ Milton office: 905-875-0026.