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Progress made on storm-water management; user fee postponed

Committee of the Whole, Sept. 25

Burlington is making progress on eliminating contaminants in storm water run-off into Hamilton Harbour, through low impact development and other techniques, but a dedicated storm water fee won’t be considered till after the next election.

A staff report to Committee of the Whole Sept. 25 provides an update on progress made towards implementing recommendations from a 2016 report prepared by the Urban Runoff Burlington Task Group, a sub-group of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan.

Among the recommendations currently in progress or complete:

  • Incorporating low impact development (LID) during road reconstruction, including bottomless catch-basins, infiltration trenches, soak away pits, permeable pavers, rain gardens, perforated pipes and Silva-Cell tree planting.
  • Maintaining the road and swale system for stormwater runoff in Aldershot, which has 19 direct outlets and 40 indirect outlets into Hamilton Harbor.
  • Setting target limits for total phosphorus and suspended sediment to be incorporated into the city’s Storm Sewer Discharge By-law.
  • Funding, with the province, the Home Flood Protection Program, coordinated by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, which offers residents a home inspection and recommendations to reduce flooding, including from stormwater runoff.
  • Working with Conservation Halton to present the “Healthy Neigboursheds – Homeowner Workshop Series” to provide residents with LID landscaping and Rain Garden design suggestions.

Implementing a storm water user fee that would charge property owners based on the amount of storm water runoff they generate will be postponed for reconsideration in the next term of Council. Currently Burlington’s stormwater management is funded through general property taxes and development charges, irrespective of the load each property type (eg. Residential, multi‐residential, institutional, commercial and industrial) contributes to the public waste/stormwater system.

Stormwater user fees have been implemented in Kitchener, Waterloo, Mississauga, London, Aurora, St. Thomas, Richmond Hill, and Markham.

The staff update report and 2016 recommendation report are available on the COW Sept. 25 Agenda.

My Take: We must reduce contaminants flowing into our lakes and streams, our drinking water source. This is particularly critical as urban intensification and development removes more greenspace, a natural stormwater absorbent. Low impact development and preserving urban greenspace are both essential. I’m also open to exploring a storm water fee that would charge according to use (as we do water and wastewater).

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.


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  1. So, now you want to TAX. and lets face it that’s all it is, another TAX just not called that but a “user fee!” The MAJORITY of residential areas in Burlington new & older except for maybe older sections of Aldershot DON’T have their stormwater running into Hamilton harbour & you want to TAX, (oh sorry, charge a “user fee” to), everybody as if they’re responsible. Tell me, mother nature rains on us & you want to charge us because some minicule amount of water might not seep into our grass & gardens but run onto the street? What kind of idiotic thinking is that? How will you judge how much runoff a residential home 75 years old produces vs a home built last year or a home on a creek whose owner uses it as a garbage bin vs a home that doesn’t? Its going to be a blanket TAX, err, “user fee” because you wouldn’t dare just charge those who abuse the system would you? Let the Region or Burlington Hydro maybe use the excess funds they generate to fix this problem – every year our water rates rise, our local hydro rates rise, where is this money going?

    • I agree Charlie my feelings exactly. The city, the region, the provincial and federal governments cannot seem to fix a problem without raising taxes. They all think the residents have a bottomless pit of money. Its time to stop this building nonsense especially in the Aldershot area which is becoming Condo row.

  2. Storm water fee is another way of saying storm water tax. We have enough tax already.
    Stop the building especially in Aldershot. Charge the builders for the storm water tax. They are the ones making money

  3. Lots of good words to help preserve water and meditate floods in our urban setting.
    We have all seen these measures tried/demonstrated but not made mandatory nor have we kept green space and trees to help absorb heavy rainfalls. Just have to look at the new GO station and it’s parking lots. Need mandatory measures with a ‘pave it pay for it fee’.

What's your take?