Canadian Consulting Engineer

Benchmark study compares Canadian cities’ costs for services

November 4, 2015

OMBI study includes data on roads, waste management, water and wastewater services.

The Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI) committee has issued its 2014 report, benchmarking the performance of 15 cities and municipal regions on 37 different services areas.
Among the benchmarked sectors are roads, waste management, water and wastewater treatment.
Though an Ontario initiative, OMBI is not confined to the province. It involves four of Canada’s largest cities outside Ontario: Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary. In Ontario, the cities involved are Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Windsor. There are also five regional governments involved: Durham, Halton, Niagara, Waterloo and York Regions.
The OMBI board of directors consists of the chief administrative officer or city manager of each of the 15 participating municipalities. Their purpose is to foster operational excellence and provide a tool for cities to measure their own performance.
For 2014, the report is almost 200 pages long and includes graphs and information comparing performance since 2012.
In the section on wastewater, for example, there are graphs on multiple aspects, such as: “How much wastewater is treated in each municipality?” “What is the total cost for the treatment and disposal of wastewater,” and even “What is the number of wastewater main back-ups relative to the average age of wastewater pipes?”
The graph for “What is the total cost for the collection, conveyance, treatment and disposal of wastewater?”
shows a wide range between jurisdictions. Montreal has the lowest cost by far at $247 per megalitre (perhaps not such an achievement given its pending release of billions of dollars of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River). The authorities with the highest costs are Durham and Halton which are $1,040 and $986 respectively. Calgary sits at $765 per megalitre, and Winnipeg is $837. A median is also given.
The analysis separates integrated systems, i.e. those authorities that have responsibility for all wastewater activities, from two-tier systems where the authorities have responsible for all components except collection.
To access the full report, click here.


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