October 10, 2019
Have your say on Oxford’s proposed new water by-law
Changes under by-law include new requirements for the name on water bills and new charges for some services
Oxford County’s proposed new water by-law captures what is already being done to manage water and wastewater systems in our community, but there are some proposed changes the County wants you to know about.
The draft water by-law-- which covers water and wastewater operations, billing and collection practices-- will be back before County Council for approval in the coming months following a first Council report on September 11, 2019. Now, the County is reaching out to the public to make sure residents and landlords understand the proposed changes and have a chance to give their feedback before the final approved by-law comes into effect, tentatively set for March 1, 2020.
Changes under the proposed new by-law include:
- Name on the bill: New residential water and wastewater accounts opened after the by-law takes effect must be opened in the name of the property owner, not a tenant in the case of a rental unit.
- Unpaid bills: All unpaid water bills will be transferred to the property owner’s municipal tax bill at a charge of $25, regardless of whether a residence is occupied by the owner or a tenant. This change saves time and cost to the system, which is ultimately paid for by all water and wastewater customers, because municipalities are better able to collect amounts owing compared to the cost and effectiveness of using private collection agencies. Transferring to municipal tax bills is a common collection practice among municipalities in Ontario.
- Shut-off for vacant residences: There will be a flat-rate, stand-by charge of $25.85/month to shut off water in a vacant residence, for instance, if a homeowner is away for an extended period of time. This maintains the customer’s share of costs to keep water and wastewater service available.
- Fees and charges: Other charges for services that result from special services to an individual customer will now be charged directly to that customer, rather than being shared by all users of the system. Examples include charges to thaw frozen pipes after the first time and for fire protection for private unmetered connections.
The draft water by-law, an information sheet, proposed fees and charges and other materials are available for review and comment on Speak Up, Oxford! at www.oxfordcounty.ca/speakup. A quick survey option is also available to offer feedback on the draft by-law’s key changes. In September, the County issued direct letters to landlords of multi-residential buildings to advise them of the draft by-law and to seek their input.
Comments received before November 15, 2019, will be taken into consideration for the County’s final report to Council. Notice for the upcoming County Council report will be issued as part of the County agenda at www.oxfordcounty.ca/council.
The proposed water by-law affects all eight of Oxford County’s area municipalities: Blandford-Blenheim, East Zorra-Tavistock, Ingersoll, Norwich, South-West Oxford, Tillsonburg, Woodstock and Zorra.
Lynn Buchner, Director, Corporate Services, Oxford County
“Oxford County maintains a high-performing water and wastewater system that is safe, reliable and cost-effective. On the business side, after comparing our practices with those of other municipalities, we saw that we could better structure our service fees to meet the long-term costs of maintaining the system, and that we could more fairly distribute costs across our customer base so that fees for special circumstances are being charged to the customers who require those circumstances. In the end, this helps ensure we are running a sustainable system now and into the future.”
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About Oxford County
Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario at the crossroads of Highways 401 and 403, Oxford County has a population of approximately 119,000 people across eight area municipalities that are “growing stronger together.” As a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government, Oxford County is emerging as a leader in sustainable growth through the Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan and County Council’s commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy, becoming a zero waste community, and working towards zero poverty. Situated in one of Ontario’s richest areas for farmland, agriculture is a key industry that serves as a springboard for some of the sustainable industries that are steadily diversifying the local economy. Oxford County offers a thriving local arts, culture and culinary community, as well as conservation parks, natural areas and more than 100 kilometres of scenic trails. The Oxford County Administration Building is located in Woodstock, Ontario. Visit www.oxfordcounty.ca or follow our social media sites at www.oxfordcounty.ca/social. Oxford County’s Strategic Plan is at oxfordcounty.ca/strategicplan.
Tommasina Conte | Strategic Communication & Engagement
519.539.9800, ext. 3503 | firstname.lastname@example.org