Last updated: May 2, 2023
The Right-of-Way (ROW) charge (formerly referred to as the Stormwater Right-of-Way charge) is a charge from Halifax Water to Halifax Regional Municipality (municipality) for the management of stormwater that comes from the public street right of way into Halifax Water’s stormwater system.
Essentially, the municipality is a customer of Halifax Water, with a large impervious area (street/roads) and the municipality has a stormwater service bill to pay to Halifax Water each year for the impact on the stormwater system.
See below for Q&As related to the Right-of-Way (ROW) Charge. For any other questions, please contact 311.
- Why do I get billed for the Right-of-Way charge?
In a 2013 rate hearing decision, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) directed that the portion of stormwater costs related to the street right-of-way should be billed to the Halifax Regional Municipality. This amount was billed on Halifax Water bills until 2016. The charge briefly appeared on municipal property tax bills in 2016/17. Since 2017, Halifax Water has collected the Right-of-Way charge on behalf of the municipality and that is why it appeared on the Halifax Water bills.
As directed by Regional Council on January 10, 2023, the required amount – currently $5.3 million per year – will now be collected through the municipal property tax billing process as an area rate. This charge will appear on the property tax bill as “Right-of-Way” charge.
The municipality’s Right-of-Way charge applies to all properties within the municipal stormwater service boundary; roads within the municipal stormwater service boundary are owned by the municipality and the services are provided by both the municipality and Halifax Water. For roads outside of the service boundary, the services are provided by the Province of Nova Scotia.
- How is the Right-of-Way charge calculated?
When the municipality collected the Right-of-Way charge in 2016/17, the charge was a flat fee on the property tax bill and created challenges for certain types of properties, such as condos, leased land communities, and water lots.
Beginning in 2023/24, the Right-of-Way charge will be an area rate and property owners will pay a rate multiplied by the assessed value of their property, similar to other charges on the property tax bill.
Property owners with an assessed value of up to $475,000 will see a lower charge than what they were paying to Halifax Water, while property owners with an assessed value of over $475,000 will see an increase. This will be a new charge for approximately 26,000 property owners who were not previously billed this charge because they were not billed the Halifax Water stormwater charge for their private property. With the new stormwater service boundary, these properties will now receive only the municipal Right-of-Way charge (the charge for public property).
- When will I see this charge on my property tax bill and removed from my Halifax Water bill?
This change became effective April 1, 2023, and the charge will first appear on the municipality’s October 2023 final property tax bill as a separate line item.
Halifax Water customers with a billing period that begins before April 1, 2023, will see a partial Right-of-Way charge on their bill. In these cases, the Right-of-Way charge will continue to be collected by Halifax Water for billing periods up to, and including, March 31, 2023. As a result, customers will receive a prorated amount of the municipal Right-of-Way charge on the bills they receive after March 31, 2023. If your billing period begins on or after April 1, 2023, you will not see an HRM Right-of-Way charge on your next Halifax Water bill.
Example: If your three-month billing period is from February 1 to May 1, 2023, you will see a partial HRM Right-of-Way charge on the bill you will receive from Halifax Water in May for the last time. The charge will be for service from February 1 to March 31, 2023.
For more information about stormwater services visit: halifaxwater.ca/row.
- What is a “right-of-way”?
A “right-of-way” is the land that a road is located on.
- What does “right-of-way maintenance” of roads mean?
Right-of-way maintenance is the general term used to describe such things as the care and maintenance of roads and bridges, as well as assets along the roadside such as trees, lighting, signage, and guard rails.
The maintenance services that compose the right-of-way maintenance include, but are not limited to, road repairs and asset recapitalization; addressing vegetation intrusion; grading roads; repairing the shoulders of roads; flood mitigation; dead animal and litter removal, garbage collection and snow and ice removal services.
- What does “stormwater system” mean?
Stormwater is the water from rain, melted snow and ice that runs off from roofs, parking lots, driveways, and other hard surfaces. Halifax Water provides stormwater services to thousands of customers throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality.
For information about stormwater systems, please visit halifaxwater.ca/stormwater-expansion.