New utility a tax grab by City of Victoria

Storm water fees the latest move by Victoria to squeeze more money out of property owners

With the implementation of a new stormwater utility fee (News, Dec. 21), it appears the City of Victoria is getting yet more inventive, and desperate, in ways to pry tax dollars from property owners.

Now the city wants property owners to pay a ‘utility’ fee for having impermeable surfaces on their lots which direct rain water to storm drains. In their initial plans this was to include roofs, paved driveways, concrete walkways, etc.

Now homeowners will pay a ‘standard rate’ based on the footprint of their house. In essence, we are to be charged for having a roof over our heads – most civilized cultures would see a roof as a necessity, not a tax revenue source!

The city opines that statistically, all lots are essentially the same, hence a standard fee will be applied. Not so. Lots differ in size, many have paved driveways or patios, some have no impermeable surfaces at all (except a roof).

Apparently there will be an appeal process for those who feel the fee is onerous.

I plan to appeal, as my lot is very small, there is only gravel and flower beds and no patios or paved driveways which send rainwater to the storm drains.

I also have rain barrels, which appear to be good for some sort of rebate under this new scheme.

What about the worst offenders in this scenario, the large shopping malls and other businesses with vast roofs and parking lots?

Indications are that businesses will see their fees drop (The cost of rain, News, Nov. 7). At least the city is willing to mention the impermeable road surface on their properties.

The city claims it will keep property tax increases to 3.5 per cent. Clearly it plans to increase utility fees as high as possible to make up for any related revenue decrease. Since 2008, my utility bills have increased by an absurd 11 per cent annually, far more than the prevailing inflation rate. This cannot continue unchecked.

Roel Hurkens

Victoria