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Toronto Contemplates Stormwater Fee Amidst Citizen Backlash



Toronto Contemplates Stormwater Fee Amidst Citizen Backlash

The Toronto municipal government is currently deliberating on the introduction of a stormwater fee, sparking discontent among residents, some dubbing it a ‘rain tax.’ The proposed charge is designed to hold homeowners accountable for their property’s impact on runoff to the city’s storm sewer system, aiming to promote green practices over concrete landscaping.

Stormwater, which comprises rain and melted snow, can lead to sewer system overloads in urban areas, potentially causing basement floods and water quality issues in Toronto’s rivers, streams, and Lake Ontario’s waterfront. Currently, residents pay a water rate that encompasses stormwater management costs.

The proposal suggests separating the stormwater charge and water service charge from the current water rate on utility bills. The water service charge would be a flat rate based on the property’s water meter size, while the stormwater charge would be calculated according to a property’s hard surface area.

The divisive nature of the stormwater fee has ignited a wave of criticism, with some expressing concern over potential tax hikes. The proposal intends to encourage eco-conscious living and address stormwater-related challenges, such as basement flooding and water quality deterioration in the city.

Amidst the debate, Canadian politician Olivia Chow has supported the measure, while reactions on social media platforms like X and Reddit have been largely negative. Public consultations are ongoing, allowing Toronto residents to voice their opinions until April 30.

Similar initiatives have been undertaken in Halifax, where discussions revolve around general versus area-specific stormwater charges. The proposal aligns with a broader push for sustainable stormwater management practices across urban centers.

In the realm of politics, figures like Kevin Vuong Jr. have criticized the stormwater fee concept, deeming it detrimental to residents already facing financial challenges. The outcome of the public consultation is expected to shape the future of stormwater management and corresponding fees in Toronto.

Rachel Adams

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