Stormwater Utility

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The City of Grande Prairie maintains a stormwater system that helps direct runoff water underground and above ground through various types of infrastructure and drains untreated into the Bear Creek and other natural water bodies. Learn more about the City's stormwater system here.

Currently, the City funds, repairs and upgrades the stormwater system through municipal taxes and grants from provincial and federal governments. The total costs of operating the system are an average of $7.5 - $8.0 million per year.



Stormwater Utility Funding Model

The City is exploring the creation of a stormwater utility that would remove funding of the stormwater system from municipal taxes and move it to a separate utility bill. This funding model has become a common practice among North American municipalities. Here in Alberta, six cities currently have a stormwater utility in place: Calgary, Edmonton, Strathcona County (Sherwood Park), St. Albert, Lloydminster and Spruce Grove.

The City has identified four main benefits of creating a stormwater utility:

  • Assigns a more precise cost to a property owner based on how much their property impacts the system.

In a storm event, water hits impervious surfaces like pavement and buildings and runs off into the stormwater system. The greater the area of these impervious surfaces on a property, the greater the volume of water that is directed into the system. Volume of water impacts the cost of building and maintaining the stormwater system. A stormwater utility would fund these costs by charging properties based on their impact on the stormwater system.

Currently the City’s stormwater system is funded through property taxes. The amount of tax levied against a property is based on the property’s assessed value which does not align with a property’s use of the stormwater system.

  • Allows for the allocation of charges to properties that are currently tax-exempt.

Currently in the City there are properties, such as those owned by the provincial and federal governments, who do not pay any municipal property taxes. It falls on City taxpayers to pay for municipal services, such as a stormwater system, that benefit these properties. With a stormwater utility in place, the City could charge these properties based on how much they use the stormwater system, just as is done with other utilities like water and sewer.

  • Allows for a more accurate tax rate comparison with other municipalities that have implemented a stormwater utility.

When comparing the City’s property taxes to other municipalities who have a stormwater utility, our rates appear higher as stormwater costs are funded by property taxes here. This can deter investment in the City if our tax rates appear inflated compared to these other municipalities.

  • Creates a pathway for a credit system that could reward properties for stormwater management practices.

Many municipalities who have a stormwater utility have put a credit system in place that recognizes that property owners may make investments in their property to reduce the impact on the City’s stormwater system through practices such as on-site retention, green roofs, and bio-swales. If a stormwater utility is created, the City would look to implement a credit system which would provide reductions to a property’s stormwater charge.

The Utility Models:

The City is exploring two stormwater utility models in order to develop a user-pay system.

Both models were developed to be cost-neutral so that no new revenues would be generated over what is currently collected to fund the stormwater system.

1. Impervious Surface Area Model

How does it work?

  • This model would determine how much impervious surfaces are on commercial, industrial, institutional or apartment properties to calculate each property's contribution to the stormwater system.
  • Impervious surfaces include any areas that do not readily absorb water, including buildings, pavement and hard-packed gravel. When rain or snowmelt reaches these surfaces it gets directed to the stormwater system.
  • The City's Geographic Information Services department uses its orthophoto program to calculate the impervious area on City properties.
  • For residential properties, a fixed rate would be applied to each property based on the footprint area of homes and garages on the property.
  • Property taxes would be reduced by 6.4%
  • This model would provide the highest level of accuracy in allocating the cost of the stormwater system to its users, based on how much a property contributes to it.
  • This model would result in a greater variance to the tax impact each property would see compared to the existing funding model. Some property owners would see net tax savings while others would see increases, both to varying degrees.

2. Assessment-Based Model with Impervious Surface Area Modifier

How does it work?

  • This model would allocate the cost of the stormwater system to two broad categories (commercial/apartments and residential) based on the impervious surface area ratio between the two categories.
  • Currently, 68% of the City’s impervious surface area on private land is found on commercial/apartment properties while 32% is found on residential properties.
  • This model would split the stormwater costs between these two categories based on this ratio
  • A mil rate would be applied to a property’s assessment and would be charged on a property’s utility bill
  • Property taxes would be reduced by 6.4%
  • This model less accurately allocates the cost of the stormwater system to individual properties
  • However, this model provides less variability in the net tax impacts to properties. While some properties would see net tax savings and other net increases, there would be smaller swings than the Impervious Model.

Stormwater Utility Rate and Tax Impact Estimator

See how each of these models would impact your property by using the Stormwater Utility Rate and Tax Impact Estimator tool here.


We Want to Hear your Feedback!

The City is seeking feedback from residents on the two proposed utility fee models (highlighted below). Your thoughts and input are valuable and we encourage you to share your feedback through the following engagement tools:

  • Stormwater Utility Survey
  • Questions Space

Public Consultation Sessions:

Two in-person consultation sessions on the Stormwater Utility will take place at the Ernie Radbourne Pavilion in Muskoseepi Park on May 31 and at Teresa Sargent Hall inside Montrose Cultural Centre on June 14 during either of the following times:

  • 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (formal presentations at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.)
  • 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (formal presentations at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.)

Residents who are interested in learning more about the stormwater utility models or wanting to provide feedback on either model are encouraged to stop by. We appreciate your time and value your participation.

The City of Grande Prairie maintains a stormwater system that helps direct runoff water underground and above ground through various types of infrastructure and drains untreated into the Bear Creek and other natural water bodies. Learn more about the City's stormwater system here.

Currently, the City funds, repairs and upgrades the stormwater system through municipal taxes and grants from provincial and federal governments. The total costs of operating the system are an average of $7.5 - $8.0 million per year.



Stormwater Utility Funding Model

The City is exploring the creation of a stormwater utility that would remove funding of the stormwater system from municipal taxes and move it to a separate utility bill. This funding model has become a common practice among North American municipalities. Here in Alberta, six cities currently have a stormwater utility in place: Calgary, Edmonton, Strathcona County (Sherwood Park), St. Albert, Lloydminster and Spruce Grove.

The City has identified four main benefits of creating a stormwater utility:

  • Assigns a more precise cost to a property owner based on how much their property impacts the system.

In a storm event, water hits impervious surfaces like pavement and buildings and runs off into the stormwater system. The greater the area of these impervious surfaces on a property, the greater the volume of water that is directed into the system. Volume of water impacts the cost of building and maintaining the stormwater system. A stormwater utility would fund these costs by charging properties based on their impact on the stormwater system.

Currently the City’s stormwater system is funded through property taxes. The amount of tax levied against a property is based on the property’s assessed value which does not align with a property’s use of the stormwater system.

  • Allows for the allocation of charges to properties that are currently tax-exempt.

Currently in the City there are properties, such as those owned by the provincial and federal governments, who do not pay any municipal property taxes. It falls on City taxpayers to pay for municipal services, such as a stormwater system, that benefit these properties. With a stormwater utility in place, the City could charge these properties based on how much they use the stormwater system, just as is done with other utilities like water and sewer.

  • Allows for a more accurate tax rate comparison with other municipalities that have implemented a stormwater utility.

When comparing the City’s property taxes to other municipalities who have a stormwater utility, our rates appear higher as stormwater costs are funded by property taxes here. This can deter investment in the City if our tax rates appear inflated compared to these other municipalities.

  • Creates a pathway for a credit system that could reward properties for stormwater management practices.

Many municipalities who have a stormwater utility have put a credit system in place that recognizes that property owners may make investments in their property to reduce the impact on the City’s stormwater system through practices such as on-site retention, green roofs, and bio-swales. If a stormwater utility is created, the City would look to implement a credit system which would provide reductions to a property’s stormwater charge.

The Utility Models:

The City is exploring two stormwater utility models in order to develop a user-pay system.

Both models were developed to be cost-neutral so that no new revenues would be generated over what is currently collected to fund the stormwater system.

1. Impervious Surface Area Model

How does it work?

  • This model would determine how much impervious surfaces are on commercial, industrial, institutional or apartment properties to calculate each property's contribution to the stormwater system.
  • Impervious surfaces include any areas that do not readily absorb water, including buildings, pavement and hard-packed gravel. When rain or snowmelt reaches these surfaces it gets directed to the stormwater system.
  • The City's Geographic Information Services department uses its orthophoto program to calculate the impervious area on City properties.
  • For residential properties, a fixed rate would be applied to each property based on the footprint area of homes and garages on the property.
  • Property taxes would be reduced by 6.4%
  • This model would provide the highest level of accuracy in allocating the cost of the stormwater system to its users, based on how much a property contributes to it.
  • This model would result in a greater variance to the tax impact each property would see compared to the existing funding model. Some property owners would see net tax savings while others would see increases, both to varying degrees.

2. Assessment-Based Model with Impervious Surface Area Modifier

How does it work?

  • This model would allocate the cost of the stormwater system to two broad categories (commercial/apartments and residential) based on the impervious surface area ratio between the two categories.
  • Currently, 68% of the City’s impervious surface area on private land is found on commercial/apartment properties while 32% is found on residential properties.
  • This model would split the stormwater costs between these two categories based on this ratio
  • A mil rate would be applied to a property’s assessment and would be charged on a property’s utility bill
  • Property taxes would be reduced by 6.4%
  • This model less accurately allocates the cost of the stormwater system to individual properties
  • However, this model provides less variability in the net tax impacts to properties. While some properties would see net tax savings and other net increases, there would be smaller swings than the Impervious Model.

Stormwater Utility Rate and Tax Impact Estimator

See how each of these models would impact your property by using the Stormwater Utility Rate and Tax Impact Estimator tool here.


We Want to Hear your Feedback!

The City is seeking feedback from residents on the two proposed utility fee models (highlighted below). Your thoughts and input are valuable and we encourage you to share your feedback through the following engagement tools:

  • Stormwater Utility Survey
  • Questions Space

Public Consultation Sessions:

Two in-person consultation sessions on the Stormwater Utility will take place at the Ernie Radbourne Pavilion in Muskoseepi Park on May 31 and at Teresa Sargent Hall inside Montrose Cultural Centre on June 14 during either of the following times:

  • 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (formal presentations at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.)
  • 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (formal presentations at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.)

Residents who are interested in learning more about the stormwater utility models or wanting to provide feedback on either model are encouraged to stop by. We appreciate your time and value your participation.

  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

    Please take 5-10 minutes to share your thoughts on the two proposed stormwater utility models. We appreciate your time and value your feedback. 

    Complete Form
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
Page last updated: 25 Aug 2022, 02:59 PM