New water fees recommended for Sandspit

  • Jun. 18, 2010 8:00 p.m.

The Moresby Island Management Committee is recommending a new water fee structure to the regional district board with the understanding that a public meeting on the topic is still to be held. At the June 9 meeting, MIMC discussed the report on the water system revenue options written by committee chair Evan Putterill. The report outlined two options, both of which included a parcel tax charged on all properties whether they were using the water system or not, of $159.75 a year. Option 1 suggested a base user fee of $129 for the first 182.5 m3 of water used per year. This equals 500 litres per day, which Mr. Putterill said is the average Canadian household consumption of water. “We wanted to not penalize families with young children,” he said, noting they typically use more water. Users taking more than the 182.5 m3 in a year would be charged a $10 billing fee and $1 per m3. This option would ensure the system earned $75,000 a year and the low volume users would pay $288.75 yearly. Option 2 was essentially the same, although the committee suggested raising the base user fee to $140 per year, which would allow MIMC to boost the capital reserves for the system in a shorter time, something Mr. Putterill said would lower the risk for the community if any large capital expenditures have to be made. After some discussion among committee members, Gord Usher moved that option 2 be recommended to the regional district. Residents who attended the meeting were allowed to comment and a couple of concerns were raised. One resident said he only uses 127 litres of water a day and wanted to know why there was no incentive to use less. “We don’t need to reduce in this system, even in peak times there’s enough,” said Mr. Putterill. The resident responded, “So you want me to subsidize families in this town?” Another resident agreed and said seniors should receive help, not young families. Another woman was unhappy the committee was choosing the higher option, which would add $11 annually to people’s water bill. “Realizing all the increases we’re all facing,” she said. “This is just like the GST. Grab and steal some more.” Concerns were also raised that trailer courts and commercial users may be getting a deal. Mr. Putterill said they would be charged the same rate up to the base amount and then they would charge the metred rate. MIMC member Robert Chisholm thought the parcel tax should be higher and the user fees lower to encourage people to use the system. He said the fees are in line with all communities in the regional district. Mr. Putterill said the fee structure can be tweaked again in time for the regional district budget next year, but he hopes to get the recommendation to them in good time, so they can go over it. Currently, water users pay a $250 user fee along with a $160 parcel tax, He said he intends to hold a public meeting about the water fees in July.