The City of Kelowna is looking at agricultural irrigation water rate increases, which could cost farmers an additional $24 an acre per year.
The new rate structure was presented to council on Monday, June 15, recommending the current $96 per acre a year cost increase to $120.
City staff say the change wouldn’t take effect until the beginning of 2021 and the bill wouldn’t be due until the end of that year.
Coun. Mohini Singh stood steadfast in opposition to the increase, saying farmers have had it hard enough this year already.
“Now is not the time to increase rates for agricultural customers,” she stated.
She mentioned the struggles faced by local farmers, specifically in the fruit industry.
“This has been a terrible year for cherry growers. Apples, the worst ever return this year.”
Mayor Colin Basran disagreed, noting that the rates are in line with other utilities in the area.
“I hear you Coun. Singh, but what also happens is the system gets a year older, the infrastructure deficit continues to grow, and we continue to put that on the backs of residential ratepayers,” said Basran.
“At some point, the farmers have to pay a little bit more to pay their fair share.”
The Agricultural Advisory Committee will review the report before the matter makes its way back before council.
A six per cent increase is also recommended for residential water rates, amounting to roughly an additional $2.10 a month, according to city staff.
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