The City of Grande Prairie is looking at a potential user-pay system for storm drainage.
Grande Prairie residents could potentially pay a new fee as the city investigates a utility model for storm drainage maintenance in order to reduce property taxes.The Infrastructure and Protective Services Committee discussed this potential change while reviewing the 2018 Storm Drainage Master Plan on Tuesday morning.“In general, I’m a big fan of user pays for a lot of things and a lot of municipalities have been recognizing that different developments have different implications on storm-water systems,” said Coun. Dylan Bressey.According to Bressey, such a system would incentivize home improvements that would benefit the environment.“Some municipalities are basing it on basically how much green area you have on your property,” he said. “So, if you’ve got a lot of concrete that discharges a lot of water quickly to the storm drain, you pay more than a property of the same size that has a green roof or has a lot of extra green space that retains a lot of that water.”Mayor Bill Given expressed interest in the idea of a utility model for storm drainage.“If we’re looking at ways to reduce the property-tax burden, maybe a user-pay model like other municipalities would make sense,” Given said.Coun. Jackie Clayton, who chaired the committee, noted that the meeting was to review the Storm Drainage Master Plan as opposed to debating the merits of a user-pay system.“If you own an older house and the development around you has increased substantially and now you’re paying for the bill of upsizing because of the fact of what’s going on around you, there’s definitely some concerns there,” Clayton said.The committee directed administration to include this issue on its outstanding items lists for future debate.Future upgradesSameng Inc., which serves as a consultant for the Storm Drainage Master Plan, estimated that the storm drainage system would need $98.5 million in improvements in order to provide 100-year flood protection everywhere within the city.“Obviously, this is quite a significant sum of money and we would anticipate that investment would take decades to complete, which is not uncommon,” said David Yue, president at Sameng Inc. “In the meantime though, there are areas that are sensitive and we would suggest that the city adopt a few studies to look at those more critical areas and solve the low-hanging fruit.”At-risk areas identified for improvement include the Northridge area, the Avondale/Montrose, the Highland Park/Swanavon area, the Ivy Lake/Cobblestone/Smith area and the Richmond Industrial Area.The committee recommended that council adopt the Storm Drainage Master Plan.