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Those who create stormwater runoff problems should pay for them, not their neighbours. I’ve been arguing, for years, that we should use economic tools to reward good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour. Instead, we so often do the opposite, with stormwater pricing being a classic example. In most Canadian municipalities, buildings with huge flat roofs or giant parking lots create big problems with the quantity, quality and speed of storm water runoff that they pay little to control. Instead, the costs fall heavily on other city ratepayers and/or water users, while lakes and rivers become contaminated.

I was therefore delighted to learn more about how well Kitchener’s new program of tiered stormwater rates has been rolled out.The first storm water management utility bills were issued in February. Aerial photos (thank you, Google Maps!) are used to measure the impervious area on each property, and storm water management rates are imposed accordingly. Small single-family homes pay $76 a year; a giant mall with 39,035 m² or greater of impervious area now pay $25,643 a year.  The overall system is tax neutral, shifting storm water management costs from property taxes onto the specific creators of impervious areas, and reducing the share of costs borne by residential taxpayers.  Tax credits are being developed to encourage best management practices that reduce storm water runoff.

Bottom line, “the more you pave, the more you pay”.

Congratulations, Kitchener!  very well done!

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