Unmetered residences and businesses will soon be paying significantly more for their water usage after Fort St. John City Council passed a new water regulation bylaw Monday.

There are 55 residential, four multi-family, 11 industrial and seven commercial properties without water meters. The City is currently charging each of these properties $150 per quarter for their water usage. The new bylaw stipulates that, as of September, any residential property owner without a water meter will be charged $300 per quarter and any commercial or industrial property owner will be charged $1,000 per quarter.

The City says that the reason commercial and industrial properties will be charged at a higher rate is because it is more likely they would use considerably more water than a typical household.

The rates will not come into effect until September to give property owners time to have a water meter installed.

The vast majority of residential and commercial properties within the city have water meters. For those property owners with water meters, Council had already passed a motion to keep current water and sewer rates unchanged for the upcoming year.

The City is also considering implementing a future block rate structure. A block rate structure gives the City the ability to charge a certain rate for a certain amount of water used. If individual residential, business or industrial properties go over that amount, then they are charged at a higher rate until another ceiling amount is reached and the rate is further increased.

City Manager Dianne Hunter told Energeticcity.ca that the top rates will really only apply to commercial and industrial businesses since they often use significantly more water than residences.