City council meeting, Nov. 27, 2018. Heather Norman photo

Quesnel to raise utility fees in 2019

The changes include increases to sewer, water, landfill, commercial garbage and airport fees

Quesnel city council passed changes to the Comprehensive Fees and Charges bylaw on Tuesday night (Nov. 27).

The changes include increases to sewer, water, landfill, commercial garbage, cemetery and airport fees, among others. The changes will come into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Kari Bolton, the director of corporate financial services for the city, presented a report to council outlining the changes to the bylaw.

Bolton says the Financial Sustainability and Audit Committee reviewed the rates at their Nov. 13 and 20 meetings, and recommended the updated rates to council.

RELATED: Quesnel inching toward first privately-owned cannabis store

Water and sewer utility fees will both be increased, while residential garbage rates remain the same. The landfill will also increase the cost of dropping off a tonne of material, as well as reducing the amount of material resident are allowed to drop off for free.

Water utility fees will increase by a five per cent increase to utility fees, a two per cent increase to bulk water fees, and a two per cent increase to connection fees.

Sewer utility fees will increase by a two per cent increase to utility fees and a two per cent increase to connection fees.

While there is no change to residential garbage rates, commercial garbage collection rates will go up by 15 per cent, which will allow the city to break even on the practice. Mayor Bob Simpson clarified that council would need to take another look at the commercial garbage collection rates in the new year, particularly as it does not serve businesses in South Quesnel.

The cost of using the landfill is also set to increase. In the midst of a Strategic Landfill and Recycling Review, the city is working to determine the future costs of the landfill, in order to expand its lifespan.

The city is gradually working its way up to charging the same fees as the Cariboo Regional District.

The cost per tonne will increase from $60 to $70 for most categories. In the same period, the cost per tonne at the Central Cariboo landfill run by the CRD is changing from $70 to $80 per tonne for most categories.

The amount allowed into the landfill for free will also be reduced, from 350 kilograms to 200 kg. In the CRD, the amount allowed into the Central Cariboo landfill for free will be reduced from 200 kg to 100 kg.

Business licence fees were also adjusted.

New categories were added for establishments serving liquor (which will pay a fee of $125, up from $75 in 2018), as well as cannabis retail (which will have a fee of $1,500) and production (which will have a fee of $5,000).

The new fee for establishments serving alcohol was added to accomodate the cost of things such as the RCMP being more frequently called to such establishments, as well as the time they spend monitoring them.

The cannabis-related fees were added due to the increased risk of, for example, armed robbery.

Other fees were raised as well.

Airport fees will have a two per cent bump, while cemetery burial rates will increase by two per cent. There will not be an increase in plot rates.

Dog licence fees are also going up by $5, which the report says will “help offset the costs of doggie bags on the riverwalk, maintenance of the dog park and the yearly contribution the city makes to the SPCA.”

There will be no fee change for the museum or the RCMP.

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