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Increased user fees part of Cold Lake 2018 budget

Changes to some user fees are coming to Cold Lake in the New Year. As part of its 2018 Operating Budget, sewer fees will go up over the next two year from 50 per cent of water use to 70 per cent.

The change means the sewer charge on a flat rate, minimum utility bill will rise from $1.32 a month to $6.80. The total bill will depend on usage.

Tipping fees at the landfill and transfer station are also going up, including a $1.50 fee for organics added to utility bills. The tipping fee for commercial construction and demolition will increase from $75 a tonne to $100, commercial municipal solid waste from $141 to $150, residential construction and demolition from $75 to $80 and residential municipal solid waste from $50 to $80.

Mayor Craig Copeland say the bump in fees better reflects what the city spends to deliver those services.

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“The increases in tipping fees and the sewer rates will bring our fee structure closer in line with cost recovery on these services, which has always been our council’s intent. “These decisions were made after considering detailed data from the landfill and with an understanding of the best practices followed in other municipalities.”

Staff will also be looking at the potential effects of increasing the minimum tipping fee for loads under 100 kilograms, which is currently $5. At the same time, they’ll get rid of the special charge for asphalt shingles.

Reviews are also being done ahead of an increase to recreational fees for the fieldhouse, outdoor field, and ice time, and those to use the Cold Lake Golf and Winter Club and the wellness centre. Marina slip fees are going up five per cent.

“Our council has always been very pro-recreation as we feel this contributes to the livability of our region and community,” says Copeland. “While recreation does not often run at cost recovery, the right balance needs to be found and that’s what council hopes to achieve through reviewing fee schedules. In the case of the Golf and Winter Club, a separate review is being done to ensure that it remains competitive and can ultimately increase its revenue.”

As for public transit, boarding the bus is still free, but city council has asked staff to prepare to add a charge during the next budget review. They’ll also look at the hours and schedule of the service.

“Cold Lake Transit was intended to increase the livability of our city and we do not want a small fee to have a big, negative impact on usership,” explains Copeland. “It’s a bare-bones service that has been very positive for the community. It is run through a contractor and does not have very many staff dedicated to it, so a small change can have a very large impact. Council knows that a fee will likely be introduced at some point in the future – we want to be ready so that when the time comes, it is introduced seamlessly.”

Council has also proposed a flat rate for the Cold Lake Handi-Bus, which would be around $1.75 for anywhere in the city. That’s what it costs currently for a one-way ride in either the north or south part of town, and $3.50 for one that crosses town.

All fees changes will take effect once the budget is passed in 2018. More changes are possible. The marina slip fee increase has already been passed.

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