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Victoria homeowners get another year to prepare for stormwater program

City to offer credits for rooftop gardens, rain barrels, permeable paving on properties beginning in 2015
Rain Garden Gnome 3
The City of Victoria's stormwater utility program is being delayed until 2015 after residents expressed concern about not having enough time to make necessary changes to their properties.

The City of Victoria is delaying a program to entice homeowners to install rain barrels, permeable paving and rain gardens.

At a Thursday committee meeting, council supported delaying the implementation of the stormwater utility program to January 2015, after residents said the 2014 timeline was too quick to make adjustments.

"When we do get this approved by council in the spring, we'll be sending out detailed information to (homeowners)," said Ed Robertson, assistant director of public works.

Stormwater maintenance will continue to be funded through property taxes this year, but in 2015, the fee will be shifted to a separate utility. The equivalent fee will be removed from property tax bills, Robertson said.

Homeowners will then be able to apply for up to a 40-per-cent discount on that utility by reducing the "hard area" of their property.  Rain gardens, cisterns, green roofs and permeable surfaces will all contribute to a lower stormwater utility bill.

During a November-through-January public consultation, city staff found most residents support the principle of the new utility but expressed concern the program was being implemented too soon.

City communications director Katie Hamilton said public open houses at the Victoria Public Market and elsewhere proved hugely successful in engaging residents. Council also praised the depth of the public consultation process, with several councillors calling it a benchmark for future projects going forward.

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