As Toronto politicians, labour leaders and pundits argue over the city’s tax-supported proposed budget the head of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association (OSWCA) is praising city council for approving a nine per cent increase in water rates.
“I’m encouraged that they’re moving forward with this nine per cent increase,” OSWCA executive Joe Accardi said.
“It shows us, as a group of sewer and watermain contractors, that they recognize the need to continue to invest in this and it shows their commitment to put themselves on the right path to eliminate their infrastructure backlog.”
The tax-supported budget, proposed Jan. 12 by the executive committee, was passed with several amendments on Tuesday. The city’s rate-supported budgets for solid waste and water were approved by full council Nov. 29.
The water budget includes a rate increase, which the city says will cost the average household $62 extra per year. This will allow an increase in infrastructure funding that will reduce the backlog by $118 million to $1.555 billion by the end of 2012.
Major current projects include:
•A bypass for the Coxwell Sanitary Trunk Sewer, which was discovered in 2008 to have been damaged in an area beneath Coxwell Boulevard and O’Connor Drive, southeast of the Don Valley Parkway and Don Mills Road interchange, in the former borough of East York;
•Expansion of the Horgan Water Treatment Plant, built in 1979 at East Point Park in the former city of Scarborough, east of Morningside Road and south of Lawrence Avenue;
•The Avenue Road Trunk Watermain, which replaces 90-year-old pipes running from the High Level Pumping Station near Dupont Street, north to Lawrence Avenue west of Yonge Street;
•Odour control facilities at the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater treatment plant, located at the south end of Leslie Street at the east end of the port lands.
New projects in 2012 include the Gerrard Street Trunk Watermain and an upgrade to the major biosolids treatment at the Highland Creek wastewater plant, which is east of the F.J. Horgan Water Treatment Plant.
The total capital budget for water is $7.9 billion for 2012 through 2021, with $607 million worth of capital works planned in 2012. The operating budget for 2012 is $381 million.
“The issue they faced last year is they took on a few substantial projects that they were in dire need to do,” Accardi said.
“That depleted their reserves a little bit. They tried very hard to do the right thing and get ahead of their infrastructure backlog so I think that’s what put them in a bit of a predicament.”
Accardi added OSWCA wants to encourage other cities in Ontario to raise their water rates.
“I hope that some of the other municipalities across the province follow Toronto and their council in ensuring they do start moving towards full cost pricing and dedicated reserves for their systems and become fiscally responsible.”
Toronto’s other rate-supported budget, for solid waste, calls for $559.4 million in capital spending for 2012 through 2021. That includes $35.9 million to continue building source-separated organics processing capacity at the Disco facility (in the former city of Etobicoke between Woodbine Racetrack and Pearson International Airport) and $11.9 million to continue developing the Green Lane Landfill, a property southwest of London, Ont. acquired by the City of Toronto in 2007.
For the Dufferin recycling facility (about one kilometre north of the Downsview airfield), the solid waste budget provides $8.6 million for site remediation and $1.1 million to begin building source-separated organics processing capacity.
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