Hamilton water bills expected to increase 20 per cent in 2024

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The increase comes as forecasts show the city will need to spend over one billion dollars on the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Photo credit: Pexels/Mikhail Nilov 


City of Hamilton Corporate and Finance Services General Manager Mike Zegarac recently told City Council that staff will be proposing a water bill increase of close to 20 per cent for 2024.

A forecast from now until 2032 prepared by consulting firm GM BluePlan Engineering previously found that the city would have to increase water rates by approximately 10 per cent each year.

That number is now expected to double for 2024 to a 20 per cent increase.

Overall, the GM BluePlan report says that the average household water bill is expected to increase from $877 to $2,070 by 2032.

That represents around a 140 per cent increase.

The 2024 projection provided in the report was an average bill of about $965.

However, that forecast was before Zegarac’s comments to Council which indicated that rates will likely rise even higher.

Thus, if the 2024 water bill rises by 20 per cent, as indicated by staff, the average bill will be approximately $1052.40.

The increase comes as forecasts show the city will need to spend over one billion dollars on the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

The rate increase in 2022 was only 4.98 per cent, while the 2023 increase was 6.49 per cent.

Zegarac says that the increases are “principally related to infrastructure,” particularly as the city grows.

He added that recent provincial changes from the More Homes Built Faster Act (Bill 23) reduce various fees in the building of new developments in an effort to make housing more affordable, but that, in turn, takes away revenue from the city.

Zegarac used Bill 23 to explain why the initial 2024 water rate increase in the GM BluePlan report was slated for about 10 per cent but will likely double to 20 per cent.

However, it’s somewhat unclear if the additional increases each year after that will stay the same (around 10 per cent each year) or if those increases will also be higher.

He added that city staff will be preparing 2024 budget documents that will detail their updated projections.

As such, the city will also be providing water bill assistance to seniors through a new program.

The program would see qualifying seniors receive approximately $145 a year in rebate assistance.

To receive the rebate, residents must be 65 years or older, have a combined income of $41,800 or less, own a residential property, and the property value of that property must be at or below $500,600.

The increase in water bills also comes as the municipal tax rate increased 5.8 per cent in 2023 and as initial reports suggest that the 2024 increase could be as much as 14 per cent.


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