Cobourg to Increase Stormwater Charge

Currently, Cobourg property owners are charged for water supply and a related sewer charge but there is no separate charge for stormwater drains – instead it’s paid for by property taxes.  But at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Consultant Peter Simcisko from Watson and Associates presented preliminary findings on a study of the status of stormwater management in Cobourg.  It seems that the Town has not been spending enough and some required infrastructure needs work.  Peter said that the Town is currently spending $410K per year but should be spending $1.59M.  He suggested that although this could be covered by an increase in the tax levy, there are other options such as charging property owners a fee based on a formula that takes into account their likely use of stormwater drains.  He plans to present these options to Council in early 2022.

Stormwater Infrastructure

As well as drains (pipes/sewers), there are also stormwater management ponds, pumping stations and oil/grit separators. Here is a list:

  • Over 70 km of storm sewers
  • 3,474 manholes and catch basins
  • 6 stormwater ponds
  • 3 pump stations
  • 65 outlet points
  • 4 oil/grit separators

These all require maintenance plus CCTV inspections of storm-sewers should be done.  In addition, there should be “full funding of life-cycle costs” – that is, allowances for Capital costs.

The annual cost will vary significantly but can be kept to the average amount through the use of reserve funds (by adding to or removing from them as required). For the average taxpayer, the current amount of the tax levy used for stormwater management is $37 per year and according to the study, this should be increased by $109. The intent is that this increase would be phased in over a period of perhaps 5 years.

And why do we suddenly know about this? It seems it’s because the Province has mandated that all municipalities have an “Asset Management Plan” in place by July 1, 2022 and stormwater infrastructure is part of that.

Resources

Although the consultant used Powerpoint for his presentation, a copy of it was not made available to the public.  For further details, go to the escribe archive here.

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Johanne
19 November 2021 8:21 pm

Scandalous. Always the same bidders and the same mistakes! New developed areas are paid by old Cobourg. Decision makers should be advised by accountants with a good reputation.

Last edited 15 days ago by Johanne
Cobourg taxpayer
17 November 2021 6:38 pm

Those of us still fortunate (or is it unfortunate?) to have ditches on our streets in Cobourg will not have to pay for storm water management??!! No catch basins, no storm sewers, no storm water pond…. Nope just clogged culverts and barely enough downward flow in the ditches to get rid of storm water. That LUCI truck idling on my street earlier this week, the driver never getting out of the truck before he drove away, perhaps he could have advised. Maybe one or more of the 13 new Town of Cobourg employees coming should have training in civil engineering instead of job descriptions that sound a lot like gibberish.

Ken
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
18 November 2021 12:40 pm

Well….the city sure saves a lot of money in our ‘Pebble Beach’ area! We are all on septic tanks….therefore no strain on the waist water system! We also have ditches that collect and funnel rain water to the lake….no strain on the storm water system! I wonder if we should all dig our own ‘wells’, so as to take the strain off of the ‘intake’ water system…..I jest!

My only complaint is that I have to cut the grass in the ditch, around our house, which is a big chore! The city doesn’t seem to do a thing to maintain these ditches…..but the taxes still keep coming! I do hope we will not see a ‘storm water’ charge on our taxes, for this area?

cornbread
Reply to  Ken
18 November 2021 5:31 pm

Don’t worry, you will be charged for the “Commom Good”.

Dunkirk
17 November 2021 6:04 pm

I am trying to figure out where this latest news fits in with the report and long term rate forecast Watson & Associates prepared for us back in 2014 that includes years until 2023: (see link below)
Am I wrong or did the same consulting firm advise the town to make those annual investments back then?
Is this the same news just a few years later?
I need some help understanding this….

https://www.cobourg.ca/en/town-hall/resources/Documents/Watson-and-Associates-Memorandum_January-20-2014.pdf

Kevin
Reply to  John Draper
18 November 2021 7:23 am

Once upon a time the sewers and storm drains were the same. Any new construction will have the 3 systems JD describes. The sewer system handles all regular drains from a house including toilets, sinks and bathtubs. It is often considered one of the greatest achievements of mankind for the benefits of reducing the spread of disease related to human waste. I do not know enough about Cobourg’s systems to know if any sewers also carry storm water. In some communities, a heavy rain can overwhelm sewage treatment plants resulting in excess water, storm and sewage, being dumped without treatment. The greater the hard surface area (roads, sidewalks, roofs) the greater the flood potential.

cornbread
17 November 2021 4:28 pm

Here we go again for another yearly
Million Dollar hit. What have our town managers been doing for the past 20 years???

Lemon cake
17 November 2021 11:39 am

I’d certainly welcome a flood risk assessment for the entire area – when we purchased our house a few years ago we were unable to find any information on the susceptibility of our home to flood risk. Infrastructure planning should address flood risk as a baseline for sustainable development – the community needs to bear the cost, not certain individual homeowners who’ve suddenly been designated as at risk, especially given they’ve not had access to this data before.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Lemon cake
17 November 2021 11:58 am

Lemon Cake, the material at https://www.grca.on.ca/programs-management/ (LAKE ONTARIO SHORELINE MANAGEMENT PLAN UPDATE) may be of interest to you.

Lemon Cake
Reply to  Ken Strauss
17 November 2021 5:05 pm

Yes I’ve seen that. I was thinking something more along these lines would be helpful… https://atlanticadaptation.ca/en/islandora/object/acasa%3A627

Concerned Taxpayer
17 November 2021 9:35 am

How can the Town of Cobourg proceed with additional subdivisions without considering the antiquated sewer infrastructure, before approval? I am pro building and development, but this will add stress to an already stressed infrastructure.

Ahewson
16 November 2021 5:53 pm

I took a walk down the newly constructed Mathew Street a couple weeks ago and noticed that they put asphalt between the sidewalk and road. It’s a very harsh looking built environment of hard surfaces. Concrete sidewalk, asphalt strip, curb, asphalt road. The strip between the sidewalk and road is maybe only a couple feet, presumably they figured trees couldn’t be planted and it’s too narrow to really support grass. But why not incorporate bioswales or something? Plant native plant species that can hold up to drought. When it does rain then all of the water coming off the sidewalk would run into the swale, get filtered and and become ground water instead of running straight to the sewer. Frankly the street looks terrible, it’s just a bleak stretch of hard surfaces that could’ve been broken up with and would have sent less water to the storm drains. It’s an outdated way of doing things. The town needs to adapt.

JimT
Reply to  Ahewson
17 November 2021 12:56 pm

I’ve noticed that other streets in that part of town have asphalt boulevards for narrow sections and sod where the area is wider, even on the same street.
For whatever reason.

Kevin
Reply to  Ahewson
17 November 2021 7:25 pm

There is an accessibility standard for the minimum width of sidewalks. It is likely that the new sidewalks are wider than the old ones. I have been told the road is too narrow for the regular snow plow. If there was a sidewalk on only one side there could be more green space and a wider street for the snow plow. It is all poor planning/design. James St. between John and College has the same issue with too much hard surfaces. Only one side walk would have been better for the same reasons Ahewson provided.

MiriamM
16 November 2021 5:17 pm

We will need to see more of this type of thinking for our urbanized communities. Storm water management as integral part of the environment systems which support urbanized communities. The scale may be larger with regard to Dale Hodges Park (see link below) but the connections are relevant. Little storm ponds surrounded by fence will not be good enough in the coming years. Neither will a big storm pipe emptying directly into the lake.

https://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/dale-hodges-park

“Dale Hodges Park is a transformative landscape along the Bow River in Calgary. The project was born of the need to restore the environmental health of the area while addressing stormwater treatment opportunities for runoff from over 1,700 hectares of adjacent urban area.”

.

Mrs Bigley
Reply to  MiriamM
17 November 2021 9:56 am

The Calgary Dales Hodges Park is is not only functional- in case of flooding but can be used as a sports field etc in the spring -summer months and it is pleasant to see – Calgary is also working on the base of the Bow in the city area to prevent any more flooding of the residents near the river – technically – l feel Calgary -is very advanced in their thinking and “doing”

Concerned
Reply to  Mrs Bigley
17 November 2021 8:59 pm

Or they have a budget in the hundreds of millions and increase taxes as needed and the expertise required.

Old Sailor
16 November 2021 2:52 pm

Perhaps the Town should reimburse the hundreds of Cobourg homeowners who had their basements flooded in the 2017 storm before it starts nickel diming us for current stormwater management fees. On our street the average restoration cost was $40k per home. If the current plan does not prevent future flooding of basements, who pays for that damage?

marya
Reply to  Old Sailor
18 November 2021 6:19 am

Exactly so Old Sailor, and how can a formula be devised to charge property owners for usage when stormwater obviously travels from the north to affect areas to the south in this area?