Chilliwack – Homeowners in Chilliwack that have stopped working due to COVID-19 may now be eligible to receive three months of credit on their utility bill for water and sewer fees thanks to a new utility bill relief program approved by Council. The amount will be based on a household’s average monthly water and sewer usage.
Recently, the federal and provincial governments announced and implemented a variety of programs to provide financial assistance to individuals and businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. Included in these program announcements was financial relief for commercial properties, through a reduction in the school tax portion of property taxes. In order to provide additional financial relief for residential homeowners that have been forced to stop working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Council recently reviewed options and approved a water and sewer utility bill relief program.
Rather than develop a new, standalone program, which would require significant resources and another application for residents, the City has found a way to streamline the process by utilizing BC Hydro’s new “COVID-19 Relief Fund for Residential Customers”. BC Hydro already has outlined eligibility requirements and provided an online application process for their program.
In order to qualify for the City’s program, a residential utility account holder must first apply for BC Hydro’s relief program and then provide the City with confirmation of program approval. This may be a copy of their BC Hydro approval letter or a recent BC Hydro invoice depicting the BC Hydro COVID-19 relief credit. Under the City’s program, the utility account holder name and address must match the BC Hydro invoice. There is a maximum of one, three month bill credit per qualified household, based on the average monthly water and sewer usage. Under this program, curbside collection fees are not eligible for credit.
“We wanted to introduce a program that provides financial relief for those that really need it during this difficult time,” said Mayor Popove. “We didn’t want to waste time trying to re-invent a program when others were already in place, so we decided to make use of a good program that benefits residents.”
It is estimated that this program will provide residential homeowners with $150,000 in total water and sewer fees relief. To adjust to this revenue loss, the City plans to delay certain capital projects that will not impact the standard provision of water and sewer services to the community.
Residents can learn more about the City of Chilliwack’s COVID-19 Utility Bill Relief Program at chilliwack.com/utilityrelief.