- A reminder that ArtWorkX will be taking place at Mississauga Celebration Square on Saturday May 27th, from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm, with some documentary screenings extending beyond this time. For more information, check out the Facebook event page here or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
In a previous post, a guest Blog by Victoria Kramkowski, Stormwater Charge Program Coordinator for the City of Mississauga, noted that with the introduction of the City of Mississauga’s stormwater charge program a public conversation started and it highlighted a significant gap in the public knowledge about the City’s stormwater system and related infrastructure. As a result, the City is attempting to bring the City’s often hidden infrastructure into the light by partnering with artists of various kinds in order to transform it and open opportunities for public education. Hopefully we’ll be able to report on how the event went in future posts.
Stormwater charges and credit programs emerging across North America. Impervious surfaces prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground. The resulting stormwater runoff washes debris, oil, pet waste, and other pollutants into waterbodies. Providing incentives for green infrastructure in terms of reduced charges is important. As economists, we fully support putting the right incentives in place to reduce flooding and make our water cleaner.
In the City of Mississauga, a stormwater charge appears on the water bill and is based on the impervious area of the property. The City provides an incentive to business and multi-residential properties of up to 50% of the stormwater charge for retention, detention, and infiltration using, for example rain barrels and permeable pavement.
In DC and Philadelphia there are similar fees to Mississauga’s. They are also based on the total area of impervious surface—including roofs, driveways, and patios—on a property. DC also has a Stormwater Retention Credits (SRCs) trading program. When green infrastructure reduces stormwater runoff, property owners get SRC’s and can trade their SRCs in an open market to others who can use them to meet regulatory requirements for retaining stormwater.
These financial sticks and carrots help to reward people for doing the right thing. They get a financial reward for the social and environmental benefits they have created. These plans move the bottom lines around for everyone’s benefit.
Interestingly, Toronto shelved a proposal for a dedicated fee to fund stormwater management “Toronto flushes plan for stormwater fee” Toronto Star Tues., May 16, 2017. Despite studying it for two years and a staff recommendation to go ahead, issues related to exemptions for “school boards, no guarantees that landlords’ savings from the change would be passed on to tenants, and residents wanting any fee based on the specifics of their property” (Toronto Star Ibid.) scuttled the proposed fee.
By way of background on the Mississauga fee, the city is growing quickly. With development comes impervious surfaces such as roofs, roads, and parking lots. This means that rain runs off rather than infiltration the ground. Stormwater runoff has to be handled by City’s 51,000 storm drains “What Toronto Can Learn From Mississauga to Reduce Basement Flooding” The Torontoist, April 7, 2017. Added to the challenges of development we are having deal with heavier rainfall and more frequent storms. The City needed to invest in its stormwater system and so introduced a stormwater charge to give it a dedicated revenue source to help fund an $1.8-billion replacement cost for its stormwater system. “Mississauga homeowner seeking legal advice on battling new stormwater charge” The Toronto Star Wed., June 10, 2015. “In its first year, the new charge was projected to generate $33 million in revenue. With about one third going to operations and maintenance and the remainder earmarked for infrastructure renewal, the approach has the potential to support significant improvements across the city.” (Torontoist Op. Cit.)
The stormwater charge appears on the water bill and is based on the impervious area of the property. If the charge were based on usage only parking lots with large impermeable surfaces may have no water bill and so be exempt. But with the charge based on impervious area the charge more closely reflects the costs the site imposes on the stormwater system. In addition, the charge calculates a property’s impact on stormwater separately from water use. The City provides an incentive to business and multi-residential properties of up to 50% of the stormwater charge for the implementation of stormwater best management practices for retention, detention, and infiltration using, for example rain barrels and permeable pavement.
- Event info: ArtWorkX will be held on Saturday May 27th between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm at Mississauga Celebration Square, as part of National Public Works Week celebrations.
- Some event highlights:
- Artists will be transforming various types of old infrastructure into art during a day-long art performance set to a live DJ
- We will have screenings of environmentally-themed videos and documentaries
- Fern Ridge Landscaping will create a pop-up rain garden to highlight how attractive property-scale infrastructure will be and to launch the City’s Stormwater Home Visit Pilot Program
- Credit Valley Conservation will lead a children’s art activity where kids will turn infrastructure into a recreation of the Credit Valley watershed
- For further information on ArtWorkx, you can also see the Facebook event page.