This is something that has bugged me for years:

Tofino residents pay higher water rates than commerical users do!  Yes, it is true.

I know that both our municipal office and local businesses claim that they pay more for their water than residents do, but this is simply not true.  It only appears that way, because of the confusing way that the Water Utility Rates Table is displayed.  If you take a look at their table, you will see that each Rate column actually refers to a different usage quantity.

For example, in the column that says Rate 1, the Residential Summer Rate is $1.03, and the Commercial Summer Rate is $1.18.  So it looks like commercial users pay more, right?  Well, look again.  The Resident Rate 1 is for <25 m3, whereas the Commercial Rate 1 is for <115 m3.  If a resident were to use that much water, we’d be paying $1.68 per m3 (Rate 5 column)!  Residents actually pay more!  So the whole table is misleading.

So I have redone the whole table, showing rates for equivalent usage.  I’ve only used summer rates.  Here is the table, or you can click this link for a larger, printable Water Rate Table.  Then check out my whole analysis, below.

Tofino Water Rates vert

The whole thing is pretty complicated because, the way they have it now, each rate change kicks in at different thresholds – so the columns that I have chosen show the general categories for same-usage – but for any rate with an asterisk you must refer to my notes below for some of the exact thresholds.

Aside from the fact that residents pay more than commercial users, two other things stand out: hotel usage rates, and the ultra-cheap “Processing” rates.

The rates for hotel usage are complicated.  They are shown as being “per unit” – so the figures in my table would only be meaningful for a one-unit hotel.  That’s why I have italicized them.  Really, what it means is that the rates shown here kick in at far higher usage volumes.  Hotels summer rates are $1.18 for <15 m3, $1.33 for<20 m3, $1.48 for <40 m3, etc., per hotel unit.  This means that a 10-room hotel would pay $1.18 for usage of <150 m3, etc.

For reference, Middle Beach Lodge has 64 rooms, the Wick has 75, and the Tin Wis has 85 – so, for 64 rooms, that lowest rate of $1.18 would apply for usages of up to 960 m3  (remember, residents are paying $1.68 at much lower usage levels, and even other business, except for “Processing”, are paying between $1.45 and $1.63 at those kinds of usage levels).

Which brings us to “Processing” businesses – I assume that means the fish plants, but I will try to confirm this and update that right here.  “Processing” businesses pay the low-low rate of only $1.05 for any usage up to 250 m3 – I wonder what they have done to get such a good rate?  I suspect that they account for a lot of our summer water consumption as well – I will do my best to find some figures on who are the main industrial users in town, and will post what I find out!  So check back here for the scoop.

Like I said, this has bugged me for years.  Locals are asked to conserve in ways that really affect our quality of life: to not water our plants, to limit our showers, to pay money to replace appliances such as toilets and washing machines – yet we are dinged with higher rates than for-profit businesses who use much more water than we do!  What do you think?  Please say it right here.  (Just be sure to use your real name or I won’t permit the post – no anonymous mud-slinging here, oops, perhaps it will have to be dust-slinging, the way things are going…)

And show up at tonight’s meeting about water issues, 7pm at the Community Hall.