Welland rebate program for seniors water bills expanded

by Dave Johnson The Welland Tribune

The City of Welland revised and expanded a low-income senior water/wastewater rebate program. – Torstar File Photo

Claudette Richard was pleased to see a program designed to assist fixed-income Welland seniors with water/wastewater bills revised and expanded.

“This has been quite a concern for me,” the Ward 5 councillor said this week.

The low-income senior water/wastewater rebate program was first set up in 2017, and during 2020 budget deliberations a request was made to update the criteria needed to qualify for the program.

To qualify, a person must be 65 or older, be the assessed owner of a residential property in the city for at least one year, in receipt of monthly guaranteed income supplement, and be using the property as a primary residence.

Under the program — one of three rebate programs offered by the city — a senior’s annual water/wastewater consumption must be 75 cubic metres or less for the application year, and on approval, an annual rebate of $300 will be applied to the senior’s water/wastewater billing account.

“How can we assure seniors are made aware of the lower income water rebate program, and what is the effective date?” asked Richard.

Deputy city treasurer Elizabeth Pankoff said the information can be found on the city’s website — welland.ca — and would also be printed on water bills.

“It takes effect once council approves it,” said Pankoff.

Other rebate programs include the high-leak adjustment policy, which provides relief to homeowners who have an unusually high water/wastewater bill due to a leak of some kind.

Their water consumption must exceed two times the average consumption, their request must be within 60 days following the issuance of the high bill, and they must provide proof of a repair.

It does not apply to those who fill their pools or hot tubs, or toward gardening, watering lawns or other outside activities.

The special assistance program is the third offered by the city and it is to assist residential property owners on a fixed income who experience difficulties paying their water/wastewater bill.

It’s offered through the Hope Centre, which reviews and approves submitted forms. The city then applies a payment to a customer’s water/wastewater bill at a maximum off $500 every two years for those who meet the criteria.

The Hope Centre is paid a 10 per cent administration fee for the service.