Most Metro Vancouver councillors support mandatory water metering

Most Metro Vancouver councillors support mandatory water metering

While few households in Metro Vancouver have water meters, the political will for mandatory metering is strong, according to a new survey conducted this summer by researchers at the School of Community and Regional Planning of the University of British Columbia.

The researchers surveyed elected councillors and mayors in the region and found that 68 per cent are in favour of mandatory water metering.

In a survey of 45 elected councillors and mayors in the region, they found 68 per cent were in favour of mandatory water metering, with the rest being opposed (19 per cent) or neutral (14 per cent).

“While cities such as Victoria, West Vancouver and Richmond have been able to provide a water meter to nearly all residents, much of British Columbia and many cities in Metro Vancouver are far behind national coverage rates – most cities have no water metering policy and have been hesitant to introduce water meters,” said report author Jordi Honey-Rosés, an associate professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) at UBC.

“It’s important to understand why elected officials’ might be hesitant to go forward with stronger action on water metering. Political will is crucial in efforts to introduce this technology in households.”

Water meters are simple gadgets that track water consumption, detecting leaks and promoting smart use of water. The survey showed that most councillors—around 80 per cent—agree that water metering produces valuable information for city managers and is an efficient tool for sustainability. Seventy-three per cent are in favour of exploring the benefits of water metering in their city, with even the few who were undecided still in favour of learning more about the impacts.

“We found that a high proportion—86 per cent—disagreed with the statement that we do not need water metering ‘because we have lots of water,’” said co-author Pascal Volker, a master’s student at SCARP. “In other words, the abundance of water in Metro Vancouver is not an obstacle in the water metering debate.”

The authors are hopeful that the results will spur more action for wise water management. “We hope the results of this survey can help empower municipal planners, engineers and staff who agree that metering is a smart way to improve water management, but who might have hesitated to take this issue to council” added Professor Honey-Rosés.

Click here to access the report.

Figure 1. City council members’ response to the statement, I support mandatory water metering in my city. The bar chart organizes the responses by the current metering policy of the responding city council member.

Report: “The political climate for stronger action on water metering policies in Metro Vancouver: A survey of elected council members and mayors”