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City of Campbell River forging ahead with boundary expansion plans

City council is moving to a public engagement process for extending its southern boundary despite hearing from a consultant that it would mean increased costs for taxpayers.

The city is proposing to annex 208 properties into the city of Campbell River in order to provide them with city sewer services; the properties currently run on septic fields.

The move would have a significant impact if it were to go ahead, according to Urban Systems consultant Dan Wong.

Wong told council last week that taxpayers in Area D would be subject to a $1,084 property tax increase, based on the average valued property at $276,000, if they were to move into the city.

In addition, it would cost each Area D property owner $11,100 to receive sewer service from the city.

That figure includes the $9,300 per property which residents approved borrowing in a 2006 referendum, as well as a one-time sewer connection fee of $1,800.

Wong said because the project will cost the city $9.16 million in capital, even with the $11,100 from Area D residents, the $1 million worth of upgrades that have already been constructed, and a $3.4 million grant the regional district secured in 2006, the city is still facing a $2.4 million shortfall.

Wong said that could leave Campbell River taxpayers on the hook.

“It would mean a $14 increase to ratepayers in the city,” Wong told council at its Jan. 21 meeting.

In addition, the city would incur $300,000 in one-time costs related to the sewer hookups and as well as an additional $775,000 to $850,000 in annual expenditures to extend its sewer service.

After hearing Wong’s presentation, council voted to endorse the public engagement process which is scheduled to take place before March; the process is intended to include an open house for affected residents.

Following public consultation, the city will have to submit its proposal to the provincial government for review.

If approved, the city will likely host a referendum in either May or June to ask constituents whether they support joining the city.

If residents vote in favour, sewer construction could begin in the fall of 2014, with completion targeted for 2015.

The entire project, however, is conditional on the Strathcona Regional District transferring its $3.4 million Building Canada Grant to the city and on senior governments extending the deadline for the grant.

As it stands now, the grant is only good until March of 2015, which Wong said does not leave the city with enough time to complete construction.

“To begin construction in fall 2014 and have construction completed by March 2015 would be challenging, if not impossible,” Wong told council.

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