Water rate hike may increase Halifax airport fees

The Halifax International Airport Authority says it will make its passengers pay if it gets stuck with a "dramatic increase" in its water bill.

The airport authority is fighting an application by the Halifax Regional Water Commission to increase its rates by 40 per cent this year for water and wastewater customers on its aerotech-airport system.

The Halifax International Airport Authority declined an interview with CBC News, but said in papers filed with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board that it "opposes the dramatic increases" in the proposed rates.

The airport authority went on to say the proposed rates would negatively affect the competitiveness of the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

"The dramatic increase in rates will cause a corresponding increase in HIAA's ticket prices for the travelling public," the airport authority warned.

"The higher rates result in higher operating expenses, which create pressure on aeronautical fees."

The Halifax Regional Water Commission said its stand-alone water and wastewater services in the aerotech-airport system lost nearly $830,000 last year and more money is needed to maintain and upgrade facilities.

In addition to the 40 per cent proposed rate hike this year, the Water Commission has also asked for another increase in 2013.

Public hearings set for June

"We're not in the airline business, we're in the wastewater and stormwater business. If they see fit to jack up their rates based on that, that'll be something they have to justify to their customers," said James Campbell, a spokesman for the Halifax Regional Water Commission.

"We have to justify our rates to our customers and to the Utility and Review Board."

The proposed increases would mean that businesses on the aerotech-airport system using the smallest meters would see their monthly water bill increase from $51.67 to $76.87 this year. That equals an increase of about 48.8 per cent.

For 2013-14, those same customers would see their monthly bill jump by an additional 74.8 per cent to $134.40.

Customers with the largest meters would see their monthly bills increase by 40.8 per cent, from $4,559.31 to $6,421.53.

If the rate hikes are approved, they will be subject to another increase in 2013-14 that will see their rates just another 23.9 per cent to $7,957.19 each month.

There are currently more than 70 customers serviced by the aerotech-airport water system, including the Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

The Halifax International Airport Authority wants to be connected to the main water system that is in place in the urban core.

The Utility and Review Board is expected to hold a hearing on the case starting June 6.

External Links

Notice of Utility and Review Board hearing