Toronto residents push back against rising condo fees and electricity rates
The fact that it's insufferably expensive to live in Toronto isn't exactly new information by any means, but this year has been an especially tough one for residents to try and make ends meet, for obvious reasons — and now our bills are about to get a little bit worse.
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is jacking electricity rates up two per cent for the whole province starting Nov. 1, despite the fact that one of Premier Doug Ford's platform promises was to drastically slash hydro costs.
People lost their jobs due to forced closures but the price of electricity is going up and taxes might go up in Ontario? #Unbelievable— Teresa Reza (@teresa_reza) October 15, 2020
The move — which OEB says is due to inflation, demand and supply costs — should only equate to around $2.24 extra or so per bill for average households who qualify for the Ontario Electricity Rebate, but condo dwellers are finding that it is leading to a much steeper increase in their maintenance fees, especially in urban centres like Toronto.
One group of residents is citing an immediate fee increase of $140 per unit at their downtown condo, which is bulk metered by Toronto Hydro. They are now petitioning politicians to step in and stop the "extremely unfair" hike that disproportionately impacts those living in buildings with metered common areas.
Calling all high-rise unit residents: Without our immediate intervention, $140+ will be added to each condo owner fees due to hydro rate hikes eff. Nov 1! If you think it’s unfair to be penalized for how buildings meter energy, share this post with @GregRickford and your network! pic.twitter.com/oxkHVkUw1B— R. Chang (@rchang22) October 15, 2020
"If this same amount of $140 annual increase was stipulated across all residents in Ontario during a global pandemic irrespective of whether they owned a home or condominium, it would be a significant financial burden, would be utterly disappointing and insensitive to the people of Ontario," the group writes in an open letter to Energy Minister Greg Rickford.
"We are asking the Honourable Minister to review the unfairness created by the changes in policy and its impact to Common Area metered multi-family residences. In a year of great economic uncertainty, changing this policy will greatly help our community."
Ontario's Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs clarified to blogTO that the rate has been increased by two per cent to adjust for inflation.
Ministry staff say that this will address any increase experienced by condo owners, and that claims of people paying an additional $140 annually are false.
My granny has a condo for years and had to sell because of rising condo fees. Toronto as a whole is a scam 😭😭😭— WAP inc. (@cardirhi) September 15, 2020
Residents were granted a bit of a break earlier in the pandemic when Ontario's provincial government cut peak rates and then nixed the usual system that charges customers more for electricity used during certain times of day, instead of implementing a new fixed rate called the COVID-19 Recovery Rate.
The province also invested $175 million to hold time-of-use electricity prices at the lowest price (or off-peak price) 24 hours a day for the first 69 days of the state of emergency.
This was most helpful for the millions of people who were suddenly working from home, or worse, found themselves out of work completely — but it will likewise be gone as of Nov. 1.
Yes, Ontario has partially privatized Hydro and it's costing us ton$$! Not to mention, publicly owned Hydro generated money for the government as well as electricity for citizens. https://t.co/AyOKP1J7Sh— Jody Dales (@Cthulusis) October 15, 2020
Moving forward after Nov. 1, residents will instead be able to opt for either the typical time-of-use way of yore or a new tiered plan that has a fixed rate up to a certain threshold of hydro used, regardless of the time of day, thanks to a new program from the provincial government.
This is all under the slightly more costly price per kWh, which follows a similar increase of 1.8 per cent just last fall.
Still, Ontarians don't seem to happy about the amount they're being charged for a basic human right — particularly those living in condos —especially when compared to other parts of the world.
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