Sewage cost sharing split divides Metro Vancouver cities

Homes to pay hundreds of dollars more and proposed change to formula would spread the pain

Metro Vancouver politicians are divided over how to redraw a formula for allocating the huge costs of new sewage treatment projects across the region.

The new projects – the replacement of first the Lions Gate and then the Iona sewage treatment plants at a combined cost of perhaps $1.6 billion – will dramatically drive up Metro sewage fees, particularly for North Shore residents if there’s no change to the allocation system that’s been in place since 1994.

So haggling has been underway for months to revise the cost-sharing formula to spread a bit more of the pain onto other parts of the region.

A tie vote Thursday of the Metro zero waste committee defeated a staff recommendation to proceed with the option most generous to the North Shore – that 70 per cent of capital costs of all future projects be shared across the region, while the rest falls on the benefitting area.

That would still be a huge hit on the North Shore, pushing annual sewage fees for the typical household up from $267 now to $678 by 2030, but still less than the $834 estimated hit per home by 2030 under the status quo formula.

For cities like Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby in Metro’s Fraser sewerage area (see green area on map below) that use the Annacis Island treatment plant, the recommended change would have pushed costs from $182 to $323 per home by 2030, based on estimates of future projects to be cost-shared, compared to $300 in 2030 under the existing formula.

Directors then voted 6-4 for a compromise option that takes into account some of the past costs incurred by cities like Surrey on older sewage upgrades, like Annacis.

It would see North Shore homes paying $715 by 2030, while Fraser-area homes would pay $319.

Homes in most of Richmond that are in the Lulu Island sewerage area would pay $471 by 2030 (up from $247 now) and the Vancouver sewerage area, which includes Vancouver, Sea Island and western fringes of Burnaby, would pay $495 (up from $197 now). (See chart of projected fees below.)

Nobody is predicting which way the vote will go on the issue when it gets to the full Metro board on Nov. 15.

“It’s going to be a battle at the board I think,” Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said.

“The issue has been controversial from the building. The North Shore and Vancouver clearly have an economic interest that’s served by a change. And there’s others who see adverse economic consequences and are not prepared to agree.”

Surrey councillors have been particularly resistant, saying their city sought a fairer formula to share the load years ago when Annacis was upgraded but were rebuffed by North Shore and Vancouver politicians who didn’t want their cities to pay more at that time for a plant they don’t use.

The bite to households could still be less than Metro estimates.

The numbers assume no large contributions from senior governments, which regional politicians all hope will materialize.

Sewerage areas

Map shows North Shore sewerage area in yellow, Vancouver in gold, Lulu Island in pink and Fraser sewerage area in green.

Projected sewage fee increase per home | Create infographics

Just Posted

Cloverdale’s 5 most-read stories of the week, March 17–22

Lottery ticket lawsuit, mysterious holes in tree trunks, and more

Surrey couple visits the Philippines each year to give back to wife’s former village

Nissa and Bob Clarkson give toys to children, provide medical-dental missions

What’s happening in Cloverdale this weekend, March 22 to 24

Looking for something to do in Cloverdale this weekend?

Upbeat White Rock concert blends ecology, history

The Wilds and Tiller’s Folly raise ‘Voices for the Salish Sea’

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read