Metro Vancouver staff oppose subsidized water rate for farmers

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      Farmers in Metro Vancouver hoping for a preferential water rate may see their hopes dashed this week.

      At their Friday (June 15) meeting, Metro Vancouver board members are slated to vote on a staff recommendation that a subsidized water rate for agricultural users not be offered “at this time”. In his report to the board, James McQueen, the regional district’s senior economist for sustainable policy and research, pegged the cost of such a plan at around $550,000.

      “Given that potable water represents less than 1 per cent of the operating expenses of agriculture in the region, a modest subsidy will do little to improve the financial viability of farming in Metro Vancouver,” McQueen concluded in his report dated May 17.

      The average cost per cubic metre of municipal water from Greater Vancouver Water District sources increased from 47 cents in 2000 to 69 cents in 2008. Delta is the only Metro Vancouver municipality that offers reduced rates for agricultural use, amounting to a subsidy of around 11 cents per cubic metre.

      McQueen noted that the regional district continues to receive requests for “accessible and affordable water” for agricultural use. Metro Vancouver is one of the lowest-cost regions in the G7 for municipal water, according to his report.