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Metro Van residents face soaring sewage treatment fees

The amount that households pay for waste water treatment services could increase 600 per cent unless Metro Vancouver gets federal funding to help upgrade its sewage facilities, according to Lois Jackson, chair of Metro's board of directors.

On May 21, Metro Vancouver approved a plan to upgrade its Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants by 2020 and 2030, respectively.

Metro council has wavered over the past year on when the Iona and Lions Gate projects will be complete, saying that a 2020 deadline without federal and provincial dollars is unachievable.

However, the recently-approved plan indicates Metro will go ahead, on schedule, with or without funds from senior levels of government.

"Across Metro Vancouver, the current household levy for waste water treatment varies from $160 to $180," stated Jackson in a press release today. "Without senior government cost sharing, those average household levies will increase 600 per cent over the next two decades for residents on the North Shore and in Vancouver."

That means that by 2020, those residents could be paying close to $1,000 per year for waste water treatment services.

Metro Vancouver is putting forward a cost-sharing deal that would have Metro Vancouver, the province and the federal government each contributing one-third of the cost (in which case residential costs would roughly double).

At a recent conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Metro Vancouver co-sponsored a resolution calling on the federal government to help municipalities cover the cost of upgrading sewage treatment facilities. Conference delegates put the resolution on hold after Environment Minister Jim Prentice agreed to meet formally with the FCM to review the regulations.

Approximately 1,000 municipalities across the country will have to upgrade or replace treatment facilities over the next three decades under newly-proposed federal guidelines.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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